First off: I think I'm going to run the predictions for each game this year — yeah, they're back — in the Game Thread for each game. That's what I'm doing today, anyway.
Here are my 25 predictions for Florida's opener against Idaho (7 p.m., ESPNU):
Our 25 predictions for Florida's August cupcake feast.
- Florida will receive the ball to begin the game.
- Florida will score in the first quarter.
- Florida will lead by double digits in the first quarter.
- Jeff Driskel will take every snap at QB for Florida in the first quarter.
- Treon Harris will take more than five snaps at QB for Florida in the second quarter.
- A Florida QB will throw at least one interception.
- Kelvin Taylor will be Florida's leading rusher.
- Taylor will not have Florida's longest run of the day.
- At least four Florida running backs will have carries.
- Quinton Dunbar will finally make a touchdown catch. (Yep. Still. Screw it.)
- Gators receivers will combine for more than 14 catches.
- A Florida tight end will make a catch. (A holdover, this one.)
- Florida will score more than 40 points.
- Florida's defense will allow under 4.5 yards per play.
- Florida's defensive line will have more than three sacks.
- Florida will allow fewer than five plays of more than 20 yards.
- Antonio Morrison will lead Florida in tackles.
- Vernon Hargreaves III will not record an interception.
- Florida will force at least one fumble.
- Andre Debose will make a big play on special teams.
- Florida will outgain Idaho by at least 250 yards.
- Florida will not shut out Idaho.
- Florida will never trail.
- Florida will win.
- We'll still have a few things to complain about.
Beyond that, though, I'm really not sure what to say to preview this game.
I watched Florida State's demolition of Idaho last year this week, hoping to come away with takeaways I could use for a Theater of Operations piece, but there really wasn't much worth noting. The player who made the most plays for the Vandals, receiver Dezmon Epps, is no longer on the roster; the quarterbacks who struggled mightily against FSU's secondary (and linebackers, and pass rush) won't play for Idaho today.
And both teams looked kind of sloppy, which surprised me, given the 80-14 final score. FSU should honestly have threatened the century mark on the day, but had pass protection problems (against Idaho!) and stubbed its toe with a goal-line interception. The 'Noles fumbled away another drive, too, and let Idaho score at the end of the first half ... before responding with a quick-strike touchdown of their own.
Yet though I thought both teams looked sloppy, FSU went 12-for-16 on third down, and outgained the Vandals by exactly 300 yards, and averaged an insane 8.4 yards per carry. There was a talent differential in the Seminoles' favor. There will be a talent differential in the Gators' favor today.
Idaho doesn't play teams from BCS — sorry, "Power 5" — conferences very often, but when the Vandals do line up against teams with the speed and strength of players from the South, they get flattened. 80-14 followed Mississippi 59, Idaho 14 and Washington State 42, Idaho 0 in 2013, and LSU 63, Idaho 14 and North Carolina 66, Idaho 0 in 2012, and Texas A&M 37, Idaho 7 in 2011. Idaho did stay within a point of Virginia at 21-20 in 2011, but that Virginia team ... wait, Virginia beat Florida State in 2011? Huh.
Anyway, Florida is a mismatch for Idaho in every way, and it would have been even without the shiny, new, up-tempo spread offense Kurt Roper is set to unleash tonight; it would've been a mismatch for Idaho with Tyler Murphy at quarterback, maybe even Treon Harris.
Florida's just better than Idaho. Florida will almost certainly prove it.
Beyond that, I don't know what to expect. Someone asked, during this week's #ChompChat on Twitter, what to watch for in this game. This was my answer at the time.
A13: Precision in execution, aggression on offense, and an ability to put teams in third and long repeatedly on D. @HotCorner_10 #ChompChat— Alligator Army (@AlligatorArmy) August 28, 2014
And that's what we all want, right? I want to see a relatively clean game that suggests that Florida's youth movement on defense is going to be more talented than youthful, that there may be much better protection from the offensive line, and that the Gators won't make the mistakes that cost games. I want to see a more aggressive offense, like every Florida fan does. And I want to see Florida doing what it can to put games in the hands of its potentially ridiculous secondary.
But: It's Idaho. And Idaho might just be the worst team Florida plays in 2014, even worse than fellow FBS cellar-dweller Eastern Michigan, and FCS team Eastern Kentucky, which will at least have three months to find an identity before coming to Gainesville. And Idaho doesn't have an option as massively troublesome as Georgia Southern's triple-option — which nearly tripped up N.C. State today — to flummox Florida's defense, nor is Florida's defense nearly as battered as it was late last year.
I just don't think there's any reason to be worried tonight, and I don't think there's a lot to be learned in walkover games like this one.
So I'm just hoping, after an offseason spent enjoying anything but football, to enjoy some football tonight. Feel free to do the same.