A mere cursory glance at this match-up will tell you that it shouldn't be close. As I write this, Florida is listed as a 37 ½ point favorite. The Gators play in the Southeastern Conference and the Eagles play in the Mid-American Conference, which should tell you that there’s a clear disparity in talent and ability between the two teams.
For the Eagles, it looks as if Reginald Bell will once again get the nod at quarterback. Unfortunately that doesn’t necessarily bode well for the Eagles, as Bell (11-of-16, 59 yards) and his successor Brogan Roback (7-of-14, 40 yards) didn't exactly light it up through the air. As a result, it’s likely the Eagles will rely on the running game to move the ball. The Eagles opened up the season last week with a victory against FCS school Morgan State, due in large part to their three running backs, Bronson Hill, Ryan Brumfield and Darius Jackson, who combined for 243 yards on 44 carries and three scores. As a team, the Eagles ran for 292 yards on 49 carries. Defensively, the Eagles were out-gained last week by the Bears 479 to 391, and it will probably get uglier in Gainesville with the return of Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel, who missed the last nine games last season due to injury. With 14 starters back from an injury riddled team, the Gators should be pointing upwards with their three top rushers, their leading tackler, and 5 of their back seven returning. This Saturday will be the Gators’ season opener as they were rained out last week against the Idaho Vandals.
It would be surprising if this game were to come within three touchdowns. Yet Florida is coming off of what was arguably their worst season in program history, with the obvious nadir being a 26-20 loss at home to (former) FCS school Georgia Southern. While injuries played a major role in their struggles last year, it’s tough to explain a loss like that, much less a 4-8 season when you’re bringing in top-10 recruiting classes every year. The Eagles have more than a few struggles of their own, but one can’t help wonder if this game ends up just a little bit closer than most think.
When: 4:00 PM ET, September 6, 2014
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL
Last Meeting: 2004, Florida 49 Eastern Michigan 10