If Florida's game against Bowling Green feels like a false start, that might be because it is.
Florida's entering 2012 with the expectation of something new and different after a 2011 that was already new and different. Will Muschamp's in his second season in charge of the Gators, and his defense seems like it should have a different mentality, but injuries to Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley have sapped some of the enthusiasm for it.
An offense that lost John Brantley, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, and Deonte Thompson looks largely anonymous, but the return of players like Mike Gillislee and Andre Debose and the arrival of offensive coordinator Brent Pease could make it an exciting unit.
New kickoff rules could ground the electric Debose on special teams, but those special teams also include Florida's best player relative to position, cannon-legged kicker Caleb Sturgis.
This will be a weird season, and not just because the usual diet of two cupcakes before the meat of the schedule will been interrupted by a trip to Texas A&M: We don't even know, as I write this two hours before kickoff, which quarterback will throw the first pass of the season.
We sit peering at an enigma from this vantage, and only after the bus drives a little further down the road will we see more than what we imagine when we close our eyes. This is an important year for Florida, and for Muschamp, and for the psyche of the Gators fan base, scarred by regression in its most important sport and near-misses by great teams in the others.
So, Gators, I implore you: Embrace the weirdness. This Florida team could lose six games or win 10, and neither outcome would surprise me. Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel could be among the SEC's best QBs or no better than the best of the Sun Belt. Gillislee could run for 1,600 or 600 yards; Debose could develop into a complete and terrifying receiver or remain an example of stunted growth; the defense could be better than its great 2011 predecessor with added depth and experience, or it could lack the top-level athletes that a truly elite defense needs to compete in the SEC.
The best thing you can do is just try to enjoy it. We only get so many of these games; trying to make sense of them and ruining them in the process would just be silly.
Broadcast information, links, etc. after the jump.
3:30 p.m. Eastern
TV and Streaming Information
The game will be broadcast on ESPN. A radio broadcast can be heard via GatorVision.
What to Watch For
Game Thread Guidelines
Try to remember that, despite how emotional watching a football game can be, there's no reason to be abusive. Rant, curse, or exult if you must, but keep the personal attacks to a minimum. And use subject lines for the sake of your fellow commenters.