By: Jacob Benson
Here will be discussed the three most important games of the 2015 season for the Florida Gators. These are the essential outings for a new Jim McElwain era at UF, and what fans should look for in year one. Keep in mind, if Florida does not perform well in all of these games it does not signal the next failed regime in Gainesville, but nonetheless, these games will play a big part in determining program momentum going into 2016 and beyond.
1) Sept. 26 vs. Tennessee Volunteers
The first game that the Gators will be underdogs in of the 2015 season (though it won’t be the last); this presents a monumental opportunity for McElwain. Not only is a decade long winning streak on the line, but this will be his first SEC home game at the Swamp. If he pieces together a win like this, the fan base should be fully behind him, and Gainesville will be rocking when Ole Miss comes to town the next week. On top of all this, a win would help to ice the hype that the Volunteers will have gained (especially if they beat Oklahoma), and garner the Gators some much needed national exposure.
2) Oct. 10 at Missouri Tigers
This game comes two just after a date with Ole Miss, and will be a third tough game in a row against a team that has had Florida’s number since joining the SEC. This should be a great test to the toughness of the Florida program under McElwain, against a team that is fairly evenly matched. Florida badly needs to win this one, or recruiting against other SEC teams will become extremely difficult for the 2016 and 2017 classes. The No. 2 spot in the East (behind presumed winner Georgia) will be a tight race between Tennessee, Florida, Missouri, and South Carolina. Winning this game should put Florida in good position for a top 3 finish, and keep them out of the SEC cellar.
3) Nov. 28 vs. Florida State
This game is being chalked up as a loss before the season even begins, though I am not quite sure why. The Seminoles will be in a rebuilding year, and at the Swamp, this will be as good a chance as any for the new staff to stick it to their archrival. A win here would not only bring back some pride to the Swamp (there haven’t been too many wins there the past couple years), it would also stem the tide of FSU’s moment recruiting in the state of Florida. Recruiting will become much easier, and the likelihood of obtaining a bid to a decent bowl game would increase dramatically.