Dan Mullen will have the benefit of playing seven home games in his first season as the Gators' head coach
After a 4-7 showing in 2017, the Florida Gators could use a good start to their ‘18 season. And if anything, it appears that the schedule could help get the Dan Mullen era in Gainesville started off on the right foot.
Unlike last season when Florida opened in Arlington, Texas, against Michigan, the Gators’ first game in 2018 will be at home against FCS opponent Charleston Southern. That is one of seven home games on Florida’s schedule this fall.
As usual, the Gators’ two toughest games are against their biggest rivals. They will play against the Georgia in Jacksonville, Florida, on the last Saturday in October and also will travel to Tallahassee to play Florida State in the regular-season finale.
Florida Gators 2018 Schedule
Bye: Week 8
Week 1 – Sept. 1 vs. Charleston Southern (Gainesville, Fla.)
The Buccaneers finished 6-5 last season playing in the FCS. This should be a good warm-up game for the Gators to start the 2018 campaign.
Week 2 – Sept. 8 vs. Kentucky (Gainesville, Fla.)
Kentucky has not defeated Florida in 31 tries. The Wildcats are coming off their second consecutive 7-6 season, so this game will not be a piece of cake for the Gators.
Week 3 – Sept. 15 vs. Colorado State (Gainesville, Fla.)
After taking over for Jim McElwain in 2015, Mike Bobo has done a decent job with the Rams program, going 21-18 over the last three seasons. This is a game Florida should not take lightly.
Week 4 – Sept. 22 at Tennessee (Knoxville, Tenn.)
This rivalry never lacks for excitement and this year’s game shouldn’t be any different. Both teams will feature new coaches with SEC West ties as Tennessee hired former Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt during the offseason.
Week 5 – Sept. 29 at Mississippi State (Starkville, Miss.)
Dan Mullen hopes his return to Starkville ends with a Gators victory. Mississippi State fans expect to annoy Florida fans and players with cowbells all day. This will be a challenging game for the Gators.
Week 6 – Oct. 6 vs. LSU (Gainesville, Fla.)
This will end a tough three-week stretch for the Gators, who are set to host the Tiger for the second straight season. Florida will be looking to avenge last season’s 17-16 loss.
Week 7 – Oct. 13 at Vanderbilt (Nashville, Tenn.)
One of the Gators’ best wins a season ago was a 38-24 victory over the Commodores. Vanderbilt is coming off a 5-7 season, but Nashville is never a comfortable place to play for Florida.
Week 9 – Oct. 27 vs. Georgia (EverBank Field - Jacksonville, Fla.)
Georgia won the SEC a year ago and lost in overtime to Alabama in the national title game. In Mullen’s first season, this will probably be the most challenging game on the schedule as this matchup could decide the SEC East.
Week 10 – Nov. 3 vs. Missouri (Gainesville, Fla.)
Although Florida scheduled Missouri for Homecoming, this game is far from a lay-up. The Tigers will feature Drew Lock, who threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns in Missouri’s 45-16 victory over Florida last year.
Week 11 – Nov. 10 vs. South Carolina (Gainesville, Fla.)
The Gamecocks are a dark-horse candidate to win the SEC East in 2018. South Carolina has a lot of talented players returning on offense including quarterback Jake Bentley and wide receivers Bryan Edwards and Deebo Samuel.
Week 12 – Nov. 17 vs. Idaho (Gainesville, Fla.)
The Vandals finished 4-8 last year in their final season in the FBS. Idaho will rejoin the Big Sky Conference and FCS ranks in 2018. Idaho should provide Florida with a chance to catch its breath and get ready for the rivalry game against Florida State a week later.
Week 13 – Nov. 24 at Florida State (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Florida State is in a bit of transition with Willie Taggart taking over Jimbo Fisher, who left for Texas A&M. The Seminoles have won the last five straight in their series with the Gators.
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.