Ranking the Gator Home Games

The home schedule for the Gators this fall may have seven games on it, but there aren't many that will bring excitement to Gainesville. The even year home schedule always lacks multiple marquee matchups.

7. Miami (OH), September 4- The Redhawks are used to playing in front of 24,000 fans at Yager Stadium, so the environment they see in The Swamp will be new. Add in the excitement of the first game of the season, and there won't be anything that comes easy for Miami (OH).

The Redhawks are 3-21 in their last two seasons, so this should be the perfect opportunity for the Gators to ease their new starters into the season. Miami (OH) does return ten offensive starts and seven defensive starters.

6. Appalachian State, November 20- The jerseys may be the same, but this won't be the same Appalachian State team that went into The Big House and knocked off the Michigan Wolverines. Quarterback Armanti Edwards was the lynch pin of their offense, but he graduated and was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the third round of the NFL Draft.

The Mountaineers still have the fight from the team that beat Michigan to start the 2007 season, but it would be difficult to challenge the Gators in the first year without their program's most well known player.

5. Mississippi State, October 16- Emotions will be high for this game, and not only because it will serve as homecoming for the Gators. It will be Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen's first time back in The Swamp since he was on the Florida sideline as their offensive coordinator in 2008, helping the Gators win a national championship.

This will be the second year under Mullen's spread offense, so the Bulldogs should be more familiar. The key loss was running back Anthony Dixon. Chris Relf and Tyler Russell will battle for the quarterback spot. The Bulldogs still need a few years of solid recruiting to compete with Florida, but Mullen has the program pointed in the right direction.

4. Kentucky, September 25- The key members of the Wildcats offense return. Quarterback Mike Hartline and running back Derrick Locke provide senior leadership, but Randall Cobb is their key playmaker. He lines up at quarterback, wide receiver, punt returner and kick returner for the Wildcats and has a chance to get in the end zone every time he touches the ball.

Joker Phillips will take over as head coach this fall after Rich Brooks stepped down. The Wildcats just don't have the talent or depth on defense to hang with the Gators this season.

3. USF, September 11- The Bulls showed last season that they care capable of pulling an upset, as they defeated Florida State in Tallahassee. Matt Grothe was injured the week before that game, and B.J. Daniels got his first start at quarterback in his hometown of Tallahassee.

USF has a few qualities important for pulling off an upset. Daniels is a scrambling quarterback that can make a play after it looks like things are breaking down. His playmaking ability was crucial to their win at Florida State. They also have the athletes capable of making plays.

There is also something to be said about a school that feels slighted and wants to become respected with the elite of college football. It will also be the first big game under new head coach Skip Holtz.

2. South Carolina, November 13- The last time Steve Spurrier led the Gamecocks into The Swamp, the game wasn't close for long. Minutes into the second quarter, the Gators already have a 28-0 lead.

This year the Gamecocks have potential to surprise and challenge for the SEC East title. They return most of the key playmakers on offense, including quarterback Stephen Garcia, wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Tori Gurley, and their top three running backs from last season. They also add the top high school running back in Marcus Lattimore.

The defense will be a question, but Spurrier-coached teams have a tendency to play above their heads in difficult environments.

1.LSU, October 9- The Tigers come into this season with a lot of uncertainty. They have to get better play from the quarterback position where Jordan Jefferson struggled last season. Running back Charles Scott and wide receiver Brandon LaFell graduated, taking two of their key playmakers from last season. Terrance Toliver and Reuben Randle will give them one of the better receiving duos in the country.

LSU will need a pass rush if their defense is going to step up. They recorded only 21 sacks last season. No matter how good cornerback Patrick Peterson is, his job is impossible without defensive linemen who can get to the quarterback.

However, they are still the team that will challenge Florida the most in The Swamp this season. LSU always has the athletes to compete with the best teams in the country. This year, it's all about coaching them up to get the best out of the their talent.
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