The road for Billy Napier and the Florida Gators football team gets no easier in year two, says ESPN’s FPI. (Photo credit: Florida Gators football)
In 2022, Billy Napier’s first year, Florida had the third-toughest schedule in college football, according to the FPI. This year, Florida’s projected schedule strength remains right there: at #3 in the country. Only Ole Miss and Minnesota have more difficult schedules.
The Gators play road games against Utah, Kentucky, South Carolina, Missouri and LSU, and host Tennessee, FSU and Arkansas. They also play Georgia in Jacksonville. (At least for one more year.)
At least this year, there’s somewhat of a silver lining that the schedule lines up fairly pleasantly.
Florida opens with Utah on the road, but gets a breather before facing Tennessee against McNeese. After the Tennessee game, Florida gets another breather against Charlotte before the SEC slate hits full-swing with a road trip to Kentucky. The week after that, Florida gets a payback opportunity against Vanderbilt before hitting the road against South Carolina, and after that is their bye week before the Georgia game. The week after Georgia, they’ll face a meddling Arkansas program at home before traveling to LSU. They’ll finish off their SEC schedule with a road trip to Missouri before facing FSU to finish the year.
But it’s still objectively a brutal slate for the Florida Gators football team. A road game against Utah and hosting a 10-3 FSU team on top of the always-dangerous eight-game SEC slate makes for a gauntlet no matter how you slice it.
Florida’s rivals, on the other hand, have significantly easier schedules, say the FPI. FSU’s schedule strength ranks 29th in the country, while Georgia’s is ranked 31st.
Of course, part of that is due to the fact that both of those teams are projected to be much better than Florida, and since they don’t play themselves and Florida does play them, the algorithm will naturally rank Florida’s schedule as tougher. Still, Georgia’s non-conference schedule is noticeably weak than Florida’s: Tennessee-Martin, Ball State and UAB join annual opponent Georgia Tech on their non-conference slate. FSU does have LSU on the docket on Labor Day Sunday, but their schedule is weakened by North Alabama, Southern Miss, and an eight-game ACC slate.
But of course, nobody is going to feel sorry for the Florida Gators football team. They’ll have to suit up and play the games between the white lines like everyone else.