Now we're down to the nitty-gritty. The fifth and final installment of the Alligator Army preseason roundtable is probably the most anticipated one. By now, you've probably read more preseason magazines (Do the Gators even have a Maple Street Press edition? Or did EDSBS give that up?) than you feel comfortable with reading. And I'll be honest, I'm right there with you. This year is the first time I've read more than two. I've read exactly three.
What are our opinions on how the Gators will fare this season? The responses after the jump have all the answers.
Question No. 5: What do you see as the Gators’ final record this season and why?
skigator93: I'm seeing about an 8-4 regular season, with losses to Bama, LSU, S. Carolina and FSU for a 5-3 conference mark. Anything better than that would make me extremely happy with Muschamp's first campaign. My range is small though, as I would be disappointed with 7-5 because that would mean the Gators only go 4-5 against quality opponents - most likely losing to either UGA or Auburn as well.
BKGator: This is a tough one. It's hard to take the orange and blue sunglasses off sometimes. Depending on what we do in October, I think we have a great shot at the SEC East title. I'm going out on a limb. I think regular season we go 10-2. South Carolina always seems to fade a bit at the end of the season and we may be able to catch them off guard. I'm not quite convinced Florida State is as good as advertised and it's a home game. Swamp holds the advantage. That being said I think we lose to USC and beat FSU. Our other loss comes in October against LSU. That being said, I think we lose in the SEC Championship game, and we probably play a Big 10 team in a bowl game. I'll take my chances in that situation. 11-3 is a pretty good season and I think Gator fans would be proud. Pretty optimistic, but I really like the chemistry on this team right now and it's amazing what a defensive mastermind like Muschamp and an offensive genius in Weis can do. It wasn't that long ago that Florida had three straight top 3 recruiting classes. There's talent on this team. Muschamp and Weis will bring out the best in them.
swampchomp7: In breaking down how this season will play out, it’s easiest to start with the games that are likely, if not highly likely, wins and losses.
I see the likely wins as: FAU, UAB, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Furman. Hooray for bowl eligibility! Unless Furman wouldn’t count toward that- I forget how the I-AA rule works.
I see the likely losses as: Bama, possibly Sakerlina (it hurts to write that).
The season will be made or broken in the LSU-Auburn-UGA gauntlet. As I mentioned in the discussion of the October schedule, I think it’s reasonable to say we could take two of those, which, provided we win the games I pegged as likely victories, we’re sitting at 8 wins. The FSU and Sakerlina games still seem very uncertain to me, because by that time Florida will have 9+ games under its belt and may have found some kind of groove. I also am not sure that FSU is as good as pollsters think, but come November 26 we ought to have a pretty darn good idea. Never bet on Sakerlina to meet high expectations, but the game’s in Billy-Brice, so who knows what they could bring. If we take one of those, then we’re sitting at 9-3.
For now, I’m sticking with my cautiously optimistic prediction of 8-4 combined with offensive coherence. 9-3 is certainly possible. 10-2 isn’t out of the question, but we’d have to take to this offense quickly, and have things break our way.
Hook85: I’ll say 9-4 with losses to Bama, LSU, South Carolina, and a bowl loss to Michigan State. I think the East will be won again by South Carolina. Even if Brantley turns it around and the offense performs way past expectations, the defensive backs are still very young and unproven. As long as we beat UT, UGA and FSU…I’ll be happy.
FlaGators: I've gone back and forth over this question more than a couple of times. It wouldn't surprise me to see as many as 9 wins, or as few as 7. I don't think that 6 wins is possible because the Gators can basically sleepwalk to 3 wins. 10 wins, that's probably a little out of their reach. I'll stay on the safe side and say they'll finish with a record of 8-4. Those 4 losses being LSU, 'Bama, South Carolina and either Georgia or Florida State. I said in the October schedule edition that I think we'll beat Georgia, so if pressed (again, the pressure!) I'd say put me down for a loss to FSU.