Since 2006, the college football world has basically been dominated by the Southeastern Conference, winning 10 of the last 14 national titles. It wouldn’t be a bold statement to say the 2020 national champion will come from the SEC once again.
Entering the third season under head coach Dan Mullen at the University of Florida, the Gators are looking to make another improvement, take a trip to Atlanta to play for an SEC Championship and a potentially grab a spot in the College Football Playoff.
The toughest part of playing football in the SEC is the lack of easy conference games. Even a game against one of the lower-level programs is never an easy win. But for the Florida Gators in 2020, they have about as good a conference schedule as an SEC East team could want.
UF Football 2020
Maybe the most important part of the Gators season is returning senior quarterback Kyle Trask. In 11 games, including the Kentucky game when Trask took over for the injured Feleipe Franks, he passed for 2,941 yards, 25 touchdowns, and seven interceptions with a 66.9 completion percentage. He also rushed for four touchdowns.
With the rest of the top quarterbacks in the conference leaving for the NFL Draft, Trask is arguably the best signal caller in college football’s toughest conference. Plus, their schedule sets up well for the team to find a rhythm before facing their toughest competition.
Like I said, there is no easy conference game in the SEC. But the Gators start their season off with three home games — The open the season against Eastern Washington, a much easier start compared to 2019 when they kicked off the season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes. Their first conference game comes against Kentucky. Up until 2017, Florida had won 31 consecutive games against the Wildcats, and thanks to Trask’s heroics in a comeback last season, they can build up a new winning streak.
After facing South Alabama, they play their first home game of the season in Knoxville when they take on Tennessee. The Gators have won 14 of the last 15 games against the Volunteers including the previous three games.
The next four games makes up their toughest stretch of the season when they host South Carolina Gamecocks and LSU Tigers in back-to-back weeks before traveling to Oxford to take on the Ole Miss Rebels. After their bye week, they take on the Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville, a game that will likely be their toughest of the season.
Florida follows that up with a trip to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt, then host Missouri and New Mexico State. They close their season out with a game against the Florida State Seminoles like they usually do, this time in Tallahassee.
Though there are a lot of unknowns with the coronavirus possible messing with the college football schedule, Gator fans should really be looking forward to the start of the 2020 season, whenever it may be.
One of the biggest advantages Florida has heading into this season is their crossover schedule. Though LSU is always a good team, they lost a lot from their National Championship team from last season, and 2020’s game is also being played in the Swamp. Their other SEC West opponent is Ole Miss, who won just four games last season, though the game being on the road will be tough. Not playing Auburn, Alabama, or Texas A&M during the regular season is huge.
If the Gators are able to get through their regular season with just one loss, or maybe even none, they’ll enter the SEC Championship game with a trip to the College Football Playoff on the line. It is never easy to do, but with a 21-5 record in the first two seasons under Mullen, there are signs this program is moving in the right direction, and this could be the season they make a huge jump.
2020 Florida Gators Football Schedule
Sept. 5: EASTERN WASHINGTON
Sept. 12: KENTUCKY*
Sept. 19: SOUTH ALABAMA
Sept. 26: at Tennessee*
Oct. 3: SOUTH CAROLINA*
Oct. 10: LSU*
Oct. 17: at Ole Miss*
Oct. 31: Georgia* (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Nov. 7: at Vanderbilt*
Nov. 14: MISSOURI*
Nov. 21: NEW MEXICO STATE
Nov. 28: at Florida State
* — Denotes SEC game
ALL CAPS — Denotes home game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fl
This article was originally published March 21, 2020.