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Florida is poised to make its season a success against Arkansas

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No one would have complained about a guaranteed nine-win campaign in August.

NCAA Football: Georgia vs Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This latest edition of my season-long predictions of Florida’s 2016 win shares is the best one in a while: The Gators, by virtue of last Saturday’s win over Georgia and my bullishness about their chances against a nightmarish November slate, are poised to be an eight-win team.

Opponent Win Share
Massachusetts 1.00
Kentucky 1.00
North Texas 1.00
at Tennessee 0.00
at Vanderbilt 1.00
Missouri 1.00
vs. Georgia 1.00
at Arkansas 0.50
South Carolina 0.80
at LSU 0.40
at Florida State 0.35
Total 8.05

My thinking:

  • I had Arkansas at a 0.35 share last week, which I think was more reflective of my worry that Florida might not beat Georgia than anything. Then I looked back at Arkansas in recent weeks: The Razorbacks have given up 30 or more points in four of their last five games, the execption being a romp over FCS Alcorn State — which is 3-4, two of its wins coming by a field goal — in early October, and have given up 150 or more rushing yards in all five of those games, including to the Braves and to Mississippi, which has the nation’s No. 100 rushing offense. I think what 75 South noted earlier this week about Florida’s offensive line being improved in pass protection, but still miserable at run-blocking, is true — but I also think Arkansas, at No. 109 in rush defense and No. 106 in defensive Rushing S&P+, is ill-equipped to be the team that makes the Gators pay for that.
  • The LSU number edges lower yet again, because, basically, I can’t justify Arkansas and LSU being near the same number in win probability. If Arkansas is close to a coin flip, LSU has to be more imposing.
  • November is where the numbers and my gut really start to diverge. S&P+ sees Florida as a two-touchdown favorite this weekend, and forecasts nearly as emphatic a win in Fayetteville as it did in Jacksonville. But S&P+ also sees the LSU and Florida State games as coin flips, so impressed is it with Florida’s defense (No. 3) and special teams (No. 4), and I cannot get there yet. If Florida pulls off a two-touchdown win on the road? I’ll be on board with something closer to the 8.74 wins S&P+ has in store for the Gators. For now, I’m staying closer to eight flat.
  • And because Florida would most likely have topped at least two of the three more SEC teams it sees to get to eight wins, thus winning the SEC East, I would have no problem arguing that a record of 8-3 and a division title would make 2016’s campaign a good season for the Gators. Florida would not have rubber-banded back to mediocrity from its surprising 2015, and would have managed to win its — admittedly atrocious — division despite having to play four road conference games, at least two of them without its starting quarterback.

As always, I want to know what your win shares are, too. Please feel free to leave your predictions in the comments of this post.