The Florida Gators are coming off their first losing season since 1979. They also failed to make a bowl for the first time since 1990 during their 4-8 campaign in 2013. Will Muschamp was not let go after his third season on the job, which is supposed to be the make or break year for most head coaches.

However, the Gators were really done in by injuries last season across the board, but most notably at quarterback and along the defensive line. They also had four net close losses, losing four times by a touchdown or less. This team clearly wasn’t nearly as bad as their record would indicate, which is why a lot of signs point upward heading into 2014.

Remember, Florida won 11 games in 2012 and averaged nine wins in Muschamp’s first two years on the job. So the four wins last year were more of an aberration than anything, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see this team get to double-digit wins and contend for an SEC East title in 2014. That’s especially the case with the way Muschamp has been able to recruit.

Indeed, the Gators have averaged the third-best recruiting class in the country over the last three years. They did slip to No. 10 in recruiting in 2014, which was obviously largely to do with a down season, but they’ll certainly take that. New offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, who held the same position at Duke over the past six seasons, figures to open up the offense and make Florida a more attractive destination for skill players.

Muschamp will be working with 14 returning starters with seven on offense and seven on defense. Former top recruit Jeff Driskel returns at quarterback after missing all but three games last year due to injury. The offensive line also suffered injuries last year, but has three starters and 66 career starts returning. The defense welcomes back nine of the top 12 tacklers from a year ago and could be one of the best in the country.

Last Season
SEC East
ATS Record
Points For
Points Against
2014 Schedule
2014 Florida Gators Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
8/30 Idaho
9/6 Eastern Michigan
9/13 Kentucky
9/20 @ Alabama
10/4 @ Tennessee
10/11 LSU
10/18 Missouri
11/1 Georgia (Jacksonville)
11/8 @ Vanderbilt
11/15 South Carolina
11/22 Eastern Kentucky
11/29 @ Florida State
Estimated Wins: 6.91

The non-conference schedule is pretty easy as the Gators will be huge favorites against Idaho, Eastern Michigan and Eastern Kentucky. Of course, everyone thought that last year before the Gators suffered their first-ever loss to an FCS opponent in Georgia Southern. Obviously, the annual meeting with Florida State at the end of the year won’t be easy.

Florida did catch a bad break by drawing the top two teams out of the SEC West in Alabama and LSU. However, the rest of the SEC schedule actually sets up nicely. The Gators get four home games compared to just three true road games in conference play, while also taking on Georgia in Jacksonville, as they do every year.

Looking at the odds in all of these games, the Gators could be showing some very nice value against the spread. Gainesville is a very tough place to play, and the Gators find themselves as home underdogs to both LSU (+9) and South Carolina (+6). They are also just a 3-point home favorite against Missouri, while catching big numbers against both Alabama (+21) and FSU (+17) on the road.

Odds (Courtesy of Bovada)
Regular Season Win Total
SEC Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
12 to 1
55 to 1
Season Predictions

I believe the Gators will be one of the most improved teams in the entire country. Of course, it’s easy to improve upon a 4-8 season, but I’m talking a drastic improvement in the win/loss column.

Florida was simply decimated by injuries last year at quarterback, and along the offensive and defensive lines, which are the three most important areas to a football team. With better health and 14 returning starters, I have the Gators becoming the surprise team of the SEC in 2014.

Indeed, I have pegged Florida to go 6-2 within the conference despite having to play both LSU and Alabama. It may lose those two games, but I have it running the table against the rest of the SEC East.  It gets South Carolina at home and plays Georgia at a neutral site. Winning those two games will give the Gators the tiebreaker atop the division and place them in the SEC title game.

2014 Projections
SEC East
SEC Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
Over 7.5
More College Football Predictions
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