Kyle Trask and the Gators will have to play well away from the Swamp if they want a shot at the SEC title
As Year 3 of Dan Mullen's tenure as head coach of the Florida Gators is set to begin, fans are thinking about not only winning the SEC East but also getting into the College Football Playoff. First, the Gators will have to get through a difficult SEC schedule, which will feature 10 conference games this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the Gators lost several key names on the defensive side of the ball, they have their starting quarterback in Kyle Trask returning. After taking over for Feleipe Franks, Trash threw for 2,941 yards, 25 touchdowns, and seven interceptions in 12 games. Now, Mullen and Trask will look to build upon their Orange Bowl victory last year.
As the season is almost ready to begin, Athlon Sports asked a few editors and one of its college football contributors to share their win/loss projection for the Gators in 2020.
Florida Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2020
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
With Georgia’s turnover and transition on offense, the door is open for the Gators to return to Atlanta for the first time since 2016. Coach Dan Mullen’s squad might have the pieces to unseat the Bulldogs this fall, especially if Kyle Trask continues to develop into one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks, and the offensive line takes a big step forward after struggling in 2019. Despite some turnover at the skill positions, there’s more than enough talent here for Mullen and Trask to keep this offense near the top of the SEC. And getting waivers for transfers Lorenzo Lingard (running back) and Justin Shorter (receiver) certainly bolstered the weapons this offseason. The Gators finished second in the SEC in scoring defense last fall, and even with some turnover at every level, it’s hard to imagine this group slipping far on the stat sheet. The schedule features a couple of tricky road trips – Texas A&M, Tennessee and Ole Miss – but the game in Jacksonville likely decides which team heads to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)
Florida has big goals in mind for 2020 and this could be the season the Gators topple Georgia for the SEC East title. Of course, their showdown in Jacksonville will be huge, but Dan Mullen's team also has marquee matchups against the defending national champs, Texas A&M, and Tennessee, the latter two taking place on the road. Playing in Kyle Field and Neyland Stadium won't pose the same challenge this season with the restrictions on capacity, but one loss could be the difference between playing in Atlanta in December and watching the SEC Championship Game from home for the fourth straight year.
Antwan Staley (@antwanstaley)
Florida has all the tools to get to the SEC Championship Game and even beyond. The question is, with a shortened season — can the Gators avoid a hiccup on their schedule? After losing a bulk of their receiving corps from last season, Kyle Trask needs big seasons from not only tight end Kyle Pitts and but also from senior wideouts Trevon Grimes and Kadarius Toney. And this unit needs more from the offensive line and the ground game than it received a season ago.
Florida dodged a bullet by not having to play Alabama in the regular season, but getting Texas A&M in College Station isn't easy. Then there's LSU a week later to deal with. Sure, the Tigers lost a ton from their national championship team, but they're still talented. Florida's season will depend on if they can finally defeat Georgia for the first time since 2017. Also, don't sleep on Kentucky and Tennessee at the end of the season. The Wildcats have always played the Gators tough, so don't be surprised if this is another close game. Tennessee showed signs of improvement late last season and figures to factor into the SEC East race as well. Regardless, Florida should be in the SEC East title picture throughout the year.