2019 Florida Gators Football Predictions and Odds to Win National Championship
Dan Mullen pulled off a heck of a turnaround in his first season with the Gators last year, improving from just four wins the year before he arrived to 10 last year. Now he needs to prove that it was no fluke and that he can build on that progress. The most striking change last year had to be QB Feleipe Franks. He was an absolute disaster two years back and looked like a guy who had no place in the FCS, never mind the SEC. Last year he was no Kyler Murray, but he was dramatically improved. He loses four starting offensive linemen but has a very strong group of receivers this year, so he has a chance to keep moving forward. If Mullen can keep that train rolling, then maybe he really could take Florida all the way at some point. I was a little skeptical of his hire at the time - he is a long way removed from those glory days calling plays for national title winners. So, I will be watching with a simultaneously skeptical but somewhat open-minded eye.
2018 in a Nutshell
Things started off on the right foot in the Mullen era. Beating Charleston Southern means nothing, but beating anyone 53-6 is still a nice statement. But all goodwill earned was lost a week later when they somehow lost by 11 at home to a Kentucky team that scared no one. They won their next five games, with a solid win at home against LSU being the highlight. But then things got rough, and they lost badly to Georgia on neutral ground and then followed it up with a worse loss at home against Missouri. It was a rough stretch that derailed the high-end potential of the season. They beat South Carolina, Idaho and Florida State to close things out, but no one will be making statues or planning parades to commemorate any of those wins. That set them up for a Peach Bowl berth. They absolutely crushed Michigan in that game, though the fact that the Wolverines were totally disinterested in the game and missing several starters certainly played a part in the result.
Key Additions and Departures
Just three players were drafted off this squad, and none were total superstars. Offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor is the biggest loss, but nothing feels insurmountable. Losing the four long-term starters on the offensive line is never ideal, but the players who left were mostly more functional than outstanding, so there is a decent chance that the young talent that will have to step up should be just fine.
On defense, the biggest development was probably neither a loss nor a gain. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was so heavily recruited by the Bengals that it looked like he was all but gone. They threw cash at him and convinced him to stick around, though, and that's a very positive factor. Losing him would have been tough. With seven returning defensive starters and a recruiting class that was loaded with defensive talent, Grantham could take a step forward with a unit that was already 20th nationally in scoring defense last year and particularly strong against the pass.
The Top 10 recruiting class doesn't have any consensus five-star players in it, but six of the new additions are ranked in the Top 110 nationally, and five of the six are on defense.
Biggest Area of Concern
After a team takes massive steps forward under a new coach, the concern is always whether they can keep it going. Mullen became just the third coach ever to take a team from less than five win to 10 or more in his first season. There were obvious changes in culture around the team. But the first season for any coach involves mostly taking over the roster of the past coach. Now this team is more his own than it was, and he has to keep things going. Some guys can really do that, but for others the magic wears off in a hurry.
Florida Gators Schedule Analysis
The season likely boils down to four games - or at least it will have to if the team wants to be at all relevant. They open with a neutral-site game against Miami, but that's not nearly as scary as it seemed like it would be a couple of years ago. The four games after that aren't particularly tough. Then comes the first two tougher games - at home against Auburn, and then at LSU. The latter game is likely tougher than the former, but both could be a real challenge and both teams should be well within the Top 20. A game at South Carolina should be a relative break, but then their traditional neutral-site affair against Georgia should be the toughest game of the year. Hosting Vanderbilt is another gift, but playing at Missouri could be a challenge if Kelly Bryant can shine at QB. Then they close out against Florida State in a game that will likely be tougher than it was last year but is still destined to be a very winnable game. Only the Georgia game feels like too much for this team unless they are really shocking, so the opportunity to improve on last year is certainly here.
2019-20 Florida Gators Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline has Florida at +3300 to win the national title, which places them behind nine other teams. Georgia at +700 and LSU at +2200 are two of those teams that are on Florida's schedule, so they have their work cut out for them. At this point they don't have a player listed as a Heisman contender, though that could change quickly with a fast start, with Franks or receiver Trevon Grimes the most likely to get into the mix.
2019-20 Florida Gators Predictions and College Football Picks
I expect this team to win between nine and 11 regular-season games - a range that is not at all helpful, as it extends from a team that is perfectly ordinary to one that could be a playoff team. They won't contend for the playoff, though, because I really give them little chance against Alabama in the SEC title game if they get that far. In total, matching last year's win total would be a success in my eyes.
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