Can first-year head coach Billy Napier lead the Florida Gators back to success? Or will Florida need a year to rebuild?
With the Dan Mullen era over with following a disappointing 6-7 season last year, the Billy Napier era begins. Mullen and the Gators were in the SEC title game in 2020 behind Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney, and Kyle Trask. Now, Napier takes over to try and get this program back to the elite level of competing for an SEC title. They have the pieces to make a splash in the SEC this year but they could also crash and burn just as easily. That being said, let’s check out the Florida Gators 2022 schedule.
Week One, Home Game vs Utah
What better way to kick off the Napier era than with a tough non-conference opponent in week one, right? The Utes are going to be a special team in the Pac 12 this year especially with Cameron Rising at quarterback. The way I see it, getting the chance to take down a tough opponent in week one is what Napier needs to earn respect as a coach. This roster is undergoing a lot of changes but with NFL talent Anthony Richardson at quarterback, the Gators can compete. Give me the Gators to defend their home turf in week one and boost Napiers morale as the new head coach.
Score Prediction: Florida 31, Utah 28
Week Two, Home Game vs Kentucky
Week two is the second of three straight home games to open the season with Kentucky coming to town. Stoops has the Wildcats in position to be a legitimate contender in the SEC overall this year. This is an important game to kick off conference play. Kentucky has their own elite QB in Will Levis but they lost a lot of pieces on defense and their offensive line thanks to the NFL Draft. That being said, I think the Gators want to win this one bad enough and prove Kentucky still has a few steps to go before they are the real deal.
Week Three, Home Game vs South Florida
The final beginning of the year home game has the South Florida Bulls coming to town. This will be a nice, easy win for the Gators before fully diving into SEC play. The Bulls went 2-10 last year and have only won three games under current head coach Jeff Scott. Look for Anthony Richardson to light up the stat sheet and lead the Gators to a blowout win in week three.
Score Prediction: Florida 48, South Florida 10
Week Four, Away Game vs Tennessee
After a nice break in week four, the Gators go on the road to take on a solid Volunteers squad. The yearly matchup between the Volunteers and Gators has been severely one-sided. Florida has 16 of the last 17 meetings. However, this Volunteers team has a chance to take down the Gators this year. Both of these teams have a legitimate chance to enter this game unbeaten. I want to take Florida with their own veteran QB in Anthony Richardson looking ready to win but I cannot do it. Give me the Vols to win a big matchup at home.
Week Five, Home Game vs Eastern Washington
Luckily for the Gators they get another rebound game after a tough loss to the Volunteers. Florida will dominate early and get a comfortable lead. The backups will be in for the late-third and early-fourth quarters before Eastern Washington scores a few times late and makes the score more respectable. Give me the Gators to win this one and feel a bit better than they did in week four.
Score Prediction: Florida 34, Eastern Washington 14
Week Six, Home Game vs Missouri
The Gators return home in week six to host the Missouri Tigers. By week six the Tigers will be gased after a tough stretch of games including getting destroyed by Georgia the week before. Missouri defintely has the pieces to win this game but they will be too beat up from weeks prior to actually go out and win the game. Give me the Gators to win a “close game” thanks to late scores by Missouri that will be too little too late.
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Week Seven, Home Game vs LSU
After two consecutive wins, the LSU TIgers come to town for a big SEC matchup. Brian Kelly is now at the helm for LSU after the departure of Ed Oregon. While Anthony Richardson is the better quarterback, LSU does bring in Jayden Daniels to boost their offense at QB. If this game was in Death Valley I would easily take LSU. However, I think the Gators will take advantage of this big home game and take down LSU before they fully get back to winning SEC titles.
Score Prediction: Florida 31, LSU 27
Week Eight, “Neutral Site” vs Georgia
Three consecutive wins is what this Gator squad needs to compete in the SEC. However, they have to play Georgia after a hard fought win over LSU. This is definitely going to be the Bulldogs’ toughest game at this point in the season. While Georgia has the upper hand in the series as of late, winning seven of the last 11 and four of the last five meetings. The Gators took down the Bulldogs 44-28 in 2020 but the Dogs avenged that loss with a 34-7 victory over Florida in 2021.
While the Gators are nowhere near the same talent level as Georgia, playing in Jacksonville is always a weird road trip. The Gators will play well this time around after getting beat up in 2021. This will be the first game of the year where Georgia will have to win this game with a few late game plays and not cruise to a win. I still like the Bulldogs to win on the road but Bulldogs fans will be on the edge of their seat until the end of the game.
Week Nine, Away Game vs Texas A&M
The tough stretch of games continues in week nine for Florida with a trip to take on Texas A&M. A&M is going to be a team that can compete for the SEC title and also a spot in the CFP. Getting a chance to try and take down this talented Aggie team will be a good test for the Gators. I think Florida can hold their own for the most part, but Texas A&M will be too good on its home field and will run away with this one.
Score Prediction: Texas A&M 38, Florida 21
Week Ten, Home Game vs South Carolina
After a brutal three-game stretch, the Gators schedule eases up a tiny bit. However, this Gamecocks team is not going to go down quietly. This will be a matchup of new head coaches but Shane Beamer is ahead of Billy Napier as far as developing their programs. The Gators get the luxury of playing at home and have only lost twice to South Carolina in Gainesville in their entire history. That being said, South Carolina has to get a big “upset” win somewhere and here it is. Give me the Gamecocks to win a close one on the road and win their third straight SEC game.
Week Eleven, Away Game vs Vanderbilt
If the Gators are coming off of two straight losses, I feel bad for Vanderbilt. The Gators will be hungry for another SEC win. Vanderbilt is not going to be good once again in 2022 and the Gators will eat that up. This game will be a cruise win for the Gators and Anthony Richardson and company will enjoy this bounce back game for sure.
Score Prediction: Florida 42, Vanderbilt 21
Week Twelve, Away Game vs Florida State
The final regular season in 2022 is a road trip to play Florida State. This is a rivalry game that both the Gators and Seminoles might actually need to play in a bowl game. Mike Norvell, is just 8-13 through two seasons with Florida State and this is a big make-or-break season for him. He might need this win to keep a job and I think the Seminoles barely get it done. This will deflate the Gators in the last regular season game of 2022.
Score Prediction: Florida State 34, Florida 27
Final Record For Florida Football In 2022-23: 7-5 (4-4)
The Gators have the talent to win more than seven games in 2022. However, to play it safe I think the Gators schedule will not be friendly to them in the middle of the year. Losing three games in a row to the upper level of the SEC will deflate the Gators if it pans out that way. Florida fans can hate this prediction but the SEC is not kind to anyone unless you run the table and do not lose. Good luck this year Florida, I hope you prove me wrong.
Which SEC team will improve the most in 2022? Comment below and join the discussion!
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