Graham Mertz

Gator Bait

By: Robert Craft news services

Here are my predictions for Florida’s W-L record in 2023, with the % chances for a Gator win in parentheses — according to ESPN matchup predictor..

Aug. 31, at Utah (29.7% chance):

A lot of this depends on Cam Rising. Even if he’s healthy, what will he look like in his first game back from surgery? The Florida defense will have to keep the Gators in the game, and I think they will. But it still looks like a loss. (Utah)

Sept. 9, McNeese State (99% chance):

The Gators get a cupcake game for their home opener after having to wait five weeks for one in 2022. (Florida)

Sept. 16, Tennessee (51.7% chance)

This week-three matchup is the one that could either generate significant momentum or place Gator Nation down in the dumps. The last time the Vols won in The Swamp, most of the players on the field hadn’t been born yet. I’m not buying the Joe Milton hype right now. (Florida)

Sept. 23, Charlotte (96.3% chance)

The second cupcake game of the season. It gets real after this. (Florida)

Sept. 30, at Kentucky (48.4% chance)

The hope for the Gators is that the offensive line won’t commit eight false starts again in Lexington, and Graham Mertz will take care of the ball better than A.R. did last year.

At this point in the season, younger players on the roster will be stepping up and making an impact. (Florida)

Oct. 7, Vanderbilt (90.4% chance)

This won’t be a repeat of 2022. The Gators should never lose to Vanderbilt on the football field, and they’ll correct that in 2023. (Florida)

Oct. 14, at South Carolina (58.9% chance)

The Gamecocks bring back Spencer Rattler, which has them getting more hype than they deserve this offseason. If the Gators want to record a statement road victory against South Carolina, they will need to take control of the football and make the most of their possessions. That starts at the quarterback position with Graham Mertz. (South Carolina)

Oct. 28, Georgia (13.8% chance)

For me, Georgia is a much better team. Coming off back-to-back national championships, Georgia’s defense is going to be scary. Florida doesn’t have the roster to compete with the Bulldogs. (Georgia)

Nov. 4, Arkansas (66.2% chance)

Arkansas is on the rise under Sam Pittman and they continue to upgrade their roster.

This game could go either way and should be a close one til the end, but playing at the Swamp could be the difference maker. The Swamp will be packed with recruits wanting to see the black uniforms, and the Gators cannot bring them out and lose. (Florida)

Nov. 11, at LSU (18.5% chance)

The Gators kept pace in this rivalry game, but Jayden Daniels and the Tigers will be too much to handle in Death Valley. (LSU)

Nov. 18, at Missouri (58.1% chance)

I will say this … I have seen Florida lose this game. Late in the season, likely a noon (11 am local) kickoff. It will be early, cold, and mostly empty in the other Columbia. Sandwiched between LSU and FSU, this has trap written all over it. (Florida)

Nov. 25, FSU (50.3% chance)

Florida State comes into The Swamp as a College Football Playoff contender. This year’s home matchup against FSU is a tossup due to the emotion of the game and Florida being at home.

The Seminoles are the more talented program right now, but that’s not always the deciding factor in a rivalry match. (FSU)

Frankly, the schedule is a bear. Mertz isn’t a great quarterback but the offense isn’t the real problem. It’s the Defense! 

If  Florida’s Defense doesn’t improve this season, the Gators will struggle to win 6 games and they won’t have a season to be proud of.