By: Jacob Benson
Now that we have looked at what games are crucial for the Florida Gators to perform well in for 2015, here are some games that are out of the Gators’ control, but still very important. The results of these games could help to shape the perception of Florida’s season, without the players ever even having to lace up.
1) Oct. 10 Miami at Florida State
Either way this game unfolds, Gator fans should look at the result as a win. If Florida State defeats the Miami Hurricanes as expected, Miami fans may whip into a frenzy. This will put Al Golden even more firmly on the hot seat in spite of the university’s massive financial loss that would involve firing him. In addition, with Florida in on so many South Florida recruits, this would help to bolster the 2016 class. Should Miami win, Florida State’s image in the state would be slightly degraded, and the Gators should be much more confident heading into the end of the season that a win against their rival is not far out of reach.
2) Oct. 3 South Carolina at Missouri
Another game that the Gators should keep their eyes on is in Columbia, Missouri, just a week before the Miami vs. Florida State matchup. This is the week before Florida travels to play the Mizzou Tigers, and if the Tigers fall to Steve Spurrier and company, the stadium should be substantially more deflated than it normally would be. In this scenario, a Gators win following up a South Carolina win would all but guarantee the Gators at least third place in the East. A Missouri win, on the other hand, would make the next week’s game much harder for McElwain, but would essentially signal the end of an era for Spurrier at South Carolina. In essence, whichever team loses may not have what it takes to beat Florida later in the year.
3) Oklahoma at Tennessee
This game should provide Florida fans at a prime time look at if they can expect to extend their 10-year win streak over the Vols. If the game goes as it did last year, Florida should feel pretty good about their chances. A Volunteer blowout win could signal Florida being in a race for third place in the East, and separate Butch Jones’ team from the pack. A close score should leave things as murky as they are now. Pay special attention to how Joshua Dobbs plays against a solid defense, as it will give an indication if he is close to ready to play against an elite one like Florida.