Head coach: Dan Mullen (second year)
Last year’s record: 10-3 (5-3 SEC), Peach Bowl win against Michigan, 41-15
Final AP ranking: No. 7
Recruiting Ranking: No. 9 (0 5-stars, 17 4-stars, 8 3-stars)
First game: Aug. 24 against Miami (Futures available on BetAmerica)
O/U win total: 9
The Florida Gators and second-year coach Dan Mullen kick off their 2019 season with a neutral-site game against rival Miami on Aug. 24 in Orlando. The early lines favor Florida with a -7.5 spread against the Hurricanes and first-year head coach Manny Diaz, who served as Miami’s defensive coordinator from 2016-18 under Mark Richt.
With August fast approaching, let’s take a look at what to expect from Florida’s upcoming season and whether the Gators will win their opener.
Year 1 with Mullen
Coming off a 10-win season and a dominant Peach Bowl win in Mullen’s first season, Florida performed much better than many expected. The Gators lost in the second week to an unranked Kentucky team, to No. 7 Georgia in Week 8 and Missouri the following weekend. But they defeated No. 23 Mississippi State, 13-6, and No. 5 LSU, 27-19, in the middle of the season and ended the year with two blowout victories over Florida State and No. 8 Michigan in the Peach Bowl.
Florida increased its scoring average from 22 points per game in 2017 to 35, while the defense allowed an average of 20 points per game, improving from 27 the previous year. The Gators lost Jachai Polite (16 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles) and CeCe Jefferson on defense but add Jonathan Greenard, a grad transfer from Louisville, and redshirt freshman Andrew Chatfield.
Looking Ahead to 2019
The Gators recruiting class currently ranks ninth, with 17 4-star recruits and eight 3-star players. Three ESPN 300 rush ends join the 2019 class—Khris Bogle, Mohamoud Diabate and Lloyd Summerall. The Gators also return defensive end Jabari Zuniga, who tallied 11 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks last season.
Quarterback Feleipe Franks (24 TDs, 6 INTs in 2018) is expected to start once again for the Gators but will need to continue to improve. He had a successful season last year behind an experienced offensive line, but he’ll lose four starters who helped protect the sophomore QB.
One strength the Gators can count on, though, is wide receiver. Florida has massive depth at the position and will bring back most of their receiving corps, including Van Jefferson, Freddie Swain, Josh Hammond and Tyrie Cleveland.
Win Total: Under 9 (-135), Over 9 (+115)
Florida faces a tough schedule. The Gators should win their first two before they hit the road to play Kentucky and seek redemption for last year’s loss to the Wildcats (the first Kentucky win in the series since 1986). Their first real challenge will come on the road at LSU. The Gators then visit South Carolina before taking on Georgia in Jacksonville. An away game at Missouri could also result in a loss for Florida. The Gators could land right at nine victories, but if they play up to their potential, expect to see just two losses on the season against LSU and Georgia. Take the over.
Miami vs. Florida, Aug. 24
Miami and first-year coach Manny Diaz must answer quite a few question marks heading into the 2019 season. The Hurricanes will need more than just the offseason to figure out their game plan, though they should transform into a formidable team by the end of the season. Miami will see Florida hand it its first loss on a neutral field. The Gators will cover the -7.5 spread and move on to host Tennessee-Martin before opening SEC play against Kentucky on Sept. 14.
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