Eastern Michigan Eagles at Florida Gators: A Way Too Early Non-Conference Preview

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

From The Factory to The Swamp, the Eagles will travel to Gainesville to take on Florida.

One week you're playing a school that plays in the Football Championship Subdivision, next thing you know, you're traveling down to where the Holy Bible has been edited to say that Jesus Christ plays football and every normal college kid goes to drink their brains out during spring break.

Florida Gators 2013 Rewind:

Last year was one of the worst seasons Florida has had in a very long time. Going 4-8 overall, the Gators were unable to go bowling for the first time since 1990. But even then, the 1990 Florida team went 9-2, winning their regular season conference championship, but couldn't go bowling due to an NCAA probation. 1979 was the last time Florida had a really bad year. Trust me, I know what a bad season of football looks like. In '79, the Gators went 0-10-1, which isn't exactly the way you'd like to bounce back from a 4-7 season.

Mascot:

Actually, it's mascots. Albert and Alberta Gator are the second cutest hubby/wifey mascot combo in the nation behind Matt Sussman and his wife. Albert came to the scene in 1957 as a real life alligator. Not the crap you see outside of a Rainforest Cafe, but the really ornery kind that Bobby Boucher tried to explain to Colonel Sanders. In 1970, a costumed version of Albert was introduced. He lived a sad, lonely, single mascot life until his wife Alberta came along in 1984.

Albert, probably a misogynist, goes to men's sporting events (men's basketball, baseball, etc.) while his lovely, headstrong feminist wife Alberta will go to the women's sporting events (women's basketball, softball, etc.). Football is really the only one those two will go to together.

Conference/Division:

Since its birth in 1932, Florida has been a part of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). And if we need any history lessons, it was first known as the Southern Conference, which only consisted of 13 teams. But yeah, they're in the SEC, something they'll probably never win under Muschamp.

Last Bowl Appearance:

The last bowl game Florida went to was the 2013 Sugar Bowl, when Teddy Bridgewater played a big part in Louisville's 33-23 victory. Louisville scored on the first play of the game off of a pick six thrown by Jeff Driskel. From there, Louisville never lost control of the lead, snapping Florida's bowl game winning streak at four.

Head Coach:

The ex-Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has been the head coach for Florida since 2010. Muschamp is a Georgia University alumnus, which I assume gets pretty awkward during the Florida-Georgia rivalry weekend. Come to think of it, Florida did lose to Georgia in 2012, avoided having to play Alabama in the SEC Championship game, and went to a BCS Bowl game while Georgia had to settle for the Capital One Bowl. Either there's a really weird conspiracy there or I'm just really bad at rambling. Probably just the latter.

Five Key Players:

Vernon Hargreaves III, CB

Dante Fowler Jr., DE

Kelvin Taylor, RB

Jonathan Bullard, DE

Jeff Driskel, QB

Offense:

Florida is coming off of a horrendous year on the offensive side of the ball. Last in the SEC with 18.8 points per game (same can be said for EMU), second-to-last in rushing with 140.75 yards per game and third-to-last in passing offense with 170.9 yards per game.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel suffered a broken leg in the first month of the season, who was only able to throw for 447 yards for two touchdowns and a trio of interceptions. He'll be back again to lead the Gator offense and has already been named to this year's Maxwell Award Watch List.

Kelvin Taylor and Mack Brown are the two leaders of Florida's rushing attack and both will be back this year. Last year, they totaled 1,051 yards off of 259 carries, scoring eight times.

Florida lost their leading receiver in Soloman Patton to the NFL, so now they will have to rely on Quinton Dunbar (40 rec., 548 yds., 0 TD) and Ahmad Fulwood (17 rec. 127 yds., 1 TD) this year.

Defense:

Even though the offense didn't perform very well, the defense still did very well. Last year, the team was second in the SEC total defense allowing 314.3 yards per game.

Hargreaves and Fowler both earned All-SEC honors last year and will be back again this year. They're both on the Bednarik Award watch list for the nation's best defensive player. Fowler and Bullard are getting a lot of preseason hype as one of the best defensive end duos in the country.

Special Teams:

Austin Hardin, had a season where... wow, how do I put this in terms that Hustle Belt readers would understand? Let me put it this way: you know those rough couple of weeks Mathew Sims had for Northern Illinois? Hardin lived that nightmare pretty much the whole season. Only attempting 12 field goals all year, Hardin only made four of them. But hey, at least hit made all 15 of his extra point attempts.

Early Prediction:

While I remain an optimist for the Eagles, it's highly unlikely for any team in the MAC, let alone Eastern Michigan, to go down into confederate territory and pull off an upset against the Gators. But this is just proper protocol. Go down to Florida, enjoy the sunshine, change the channel to watch some silly ACC game on ESPN2 once this gets out of hand and come back with some money just so Gator fans can say "well that was an easy win". So go ahead and win 42-17, I'll still sleep peacefully at night.

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