I have very little to say about Florida’s opener against Massachusetts (7:30 p.m., SEC Network or WatchESPN), I will confess. That’s partly because there’s very little to say about the Minutemen, other than that they are very likely to not be good enough at football to threaten the Gators’ decades-long streak of wins in season openers.
But it’s also because there’s enough that remains a mystery about Florida that I don’t want to go out on too many limbs with these Gators when I could literally wait and see for a few hours and have a better understanding of what Luke Del Rio can be in a live game, or how good the Florida defense will be, or whether someone other than Brandon Powell will return a kick.
This is also a game meant to be enjoyed and savored, with Steve Spurrier in attendance and his name newly attached to the stadium he dubbed The Swamp. Florida is honoring the person who has done more than any other — even Jeremy Foley — to make it an athletic powerhouse in the right way, 50 years after he won the Heisman Trophy and 20 after his Gators found ultimate victory for the first time.
It’s okay to drink that in, rather than overreacting to Del Rio missing an open receiver or one of the Florida running backs getting a few more carries than his competition. You have Labor Day off, right? We can do all that overreacting — or, uh, the clear-eyed analysis better done with sobriety and time — then.
Tonight? Just feel it.
Here are my 25 predictions for Florida-UMass.
- Both teams will score touchdowns.
- Florida will lead by double digits in the first half.
- Florida will lead by at least two touchdowns at halftime.
- Luke Del Rio will throw at least two touchdown passes.
- Del Rio will throw at least one interception.
- Del Rio’s passer rating will be higher than 145.43 — the number posted by Will Grier as a Gator in 2015.
- Jordan Cronkrite will lead Florida in rushing yards.
- Cronkrite will not lead Florida in yards per carry.
- All three of Cronkrite, Jordan Scarlett, and Mark Thompson will have at least eight carries.
- Lamical Perine will have at least three carries.
- Dre Massey will make a big play either on offense or special teams.
- Florida will score at least 38 points on offensive possessions.
- CeCe Jefferson will record at least one sack.
- Jarrad Davis will lead Florida in tackles.
- Alex Anzalone will have at least five tackles.
- Florida will play primarily with five defensive backs and two linebackers, despite listing three linebackers as starters on its depth chart.
- Joseph Putu will make a big play on defense.
- Quincy Wilson will make a big play on defense.
- Massachusetts will not gain 300 yards.
- Florida’s defense will allow fewer than 4.5 yards per play.
- Florida will force at least one turnover.
- Florida will win the turnover battle.
- Eddy Pineiro will make a field goal of at least 45 yards.
- Pineiro will make more than 50 percent of his field goals.
- Florida will win, 55-13.
Your predictions and comments, as always, are welcomed. A reminder: Please be kind and treat your fellow commenters as you would your siblings.