Dan Mullen will begin his first season as Florida's head coach with seven home games at The Swamp. The bad news is, the Gators will have a challenging road schedule, including trips to Knoxville, Starkville and Tallahassee. And don't forget about the annual tilt with Georgia in Jacksonville, Florida, on Oct. 27.
Here's how Florida's schedule shapes up with the games ranked from easiest to most difficult.
12. Sept. 1 vs. Charleston Southern
After losing to Michigan on a neutral field to begin the 2017 season, the Gators will return to playing a more traditional warm-up opponent in FCS member Charleston Southern to start the Dan Mullen era.
11. Nov. 17 vs. Idaho
The Vandals finished 4-8 last season in their final year in the FBS as they will rejoin the FCS as a member of the Big Sky Conference this upcoming season. The Vandals are a perfect opponent to play before the Gators' trip to Florida State.
10. Sept 15. vs. Colorado State
The Rams are no pushover as they finished last season with a 7-6 record. Colorado State does have some questions at the quarterback position as their best options Collin Hill, (ACL) and K.J. Carta-Samuels (Washington transfer) both watched the spring game from the sideline.
9. Oct. 13 at Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt is coming off a 5-7 campaign, but Derek Mason's defenses are always tough to play. Also, the Gators have had some interesting games against the Commodores two of the last three years, so they better not take them lightly.
8. Nov. 3 vs. Missouri
Although this game will be Florida's homecoming, this will be a tough matchup for the Gators. Last season, Tigers quarterback Drew Lock threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns in the 45-16 waxing of the Gators. With Lock returning for his senior season, Missouri should figure in the SEC East race.
7. Sept. 8 vs. Kentucky
One would think for the bad seasons the Gators have had in 2013 and '17, the Wildcats would have broken their losing streak to Florida, but that has not been the case. Kentucky will again try to defeat Florida for the first time since 1986 this fall. Last year, the Wildcats finished 7-6 for the second consecutive season.
6. Sept. 22 at Tennessee
It is rare that you would find a game against the Volunteers in this territory, but that is the case in 2018. Tennessee, like Florida, has a new head coach in Jeremy Pruitt, who will try to get the Volunteers back to contending in the SEC East. These two teams also are similar in that each has a lot of questions to answer before the start of the season. So this should make for a fun contest.
5. Nov. 10 vs. South Carolina
One could make the argument that the Gamecocks could win the SEC East this upcoming season. They do get Georgia in Columbia, but first they will need to beat a Florida team that they're expected to be superior to.
Last season the Gamecocks finished with a 9-4 record, which included an Outback Bowl victory over Michigan. South Carolina has quarterback Jake Bentley, who could be one of the best in the SEC this season.
4. Oct. 6 vs. LSU
The Gators will have a tough stretch of games in late September going into October -- Tennessee, Mississippi State and LSU. It is hard to get a handle on the Gators-Tigers series, as the road team has won three out of the last four meetings. Last season, Florida came up just short against LSU, losing 17-16 at home.
3. Nov. 24 at Florida State
Usually, the game against the Seminoles would be at the toughest game on the Gators' schedule, but that is not the case in 2018. With the transition to Willie Taggart as head coach, Florida State will be trying to improve from its 7-6 showing a year ago. Despite the turnover from both teams, expect the Gators to put up a fight in Tallahassee as they will be looking for their first win in the rivalry since 2012.
2. Sept. 29 at Mississippi State
Dan Mullen left Mississippi State for Florida after nine seasons leading the Bulldogs. Despite all the success Mullen had, he and the Gators can expect a hostile environment when they make the late September trip to Starkville. Joe Moorhead replaced Mullen and he has a lot of talent returning, including Nick Fitzgerald, who could be one of the top quarterbacks taken in the 2019 NFL Draft.
1. Oct. 27 vs. Georgia (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Georgia destroyed Florida a year ago 42-7 as the Bulldogs led 21-0 after the first quarter and never looked back. The Bulldogs have a lot of players to replace from their SEC championship team, but Jake Fromm returns to lead their offense. If Florida wants to contend for an SEC East title this season, the Gators will have to defeat the Bulldogs, who will most likely be ranked in the top five of the preseason polls.
-- 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.
(Top photo by Tim Casey, courtesy of floridagators.com)