GAINESVILLE -- A college football preseason summer series! A yearly tradition like The Masters, a Kardashian wedding or an Emmy snub for Jon Hamm.
Today: Florida's five toughest games in 2014. The Gators' upcoming schedule is ranked among the toughest in the nation, with six preseason Top 25 matchups on the slate -- including five games against Top 15 foes.
1. @ Florida State (Nov. 29) -- The Seminoles crushed the Gators by 30 points in The Swamp last season, as Jameis Winston eviscerated the nation’s No. 8th ranked defense for 327 yards and three touchdowns. While UF stands to be an improved squad in 2014, FSU returns a loaded defense (eight starters), an all-senior starting offensive line and the nation’s No. 4 recruiting class.
2. @ Alabama (Sept. 20) -- Florida’s last trek into Bryant-Denny Stadium was an embarrassing bloodbath: a 31-6 shellacking in 2010. This fall’s return to Tuscaloosa could be deja vu. The Gators should again have some early momentum thanks to three home cupcakes to open the year. But Bama remains the class of college football, and the game’s finest coach (Nick Saban) has lost just a single home tilt against an Eastern Division foe (Georgia, 2007) in his career with the Tide.
3. vs. Georgia (Nov. 1) -- For years, Georgia was the team that found ways to lose in Jacksonville (see: turnovers, penalties), but Florida has not-so-gleefully accepted that role of late. The Gators have dropped three straight against their bitter border rival, as coach Will Muschamp remains winless on both sides of the series. Heisman hopeful tailback Todd Gurley shredded Florida in 2013 (187 total yards, two touchdowns) and stands as UF’s toughest individual challenge this year.
4. vs. LSU (Oct. 11) -- The Tigers lost a ridiculous amount of talent this offseason (nation-leading nine NFL draftees), but Les Miles simply reloads every year. Despite a preseason quarterback competition, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has seemingly stabilized the Tigers’ attack and the introduction of top recruit Leonard Fournette (RB) should only help.
5. vs. South Carolina (Nov. 15) -- Steve Spurrier’s bunch returns eight starters on offense and a former backup quarterback (Dylan Thompson) with plenty of experience. UF has lost three of the last four against the Gamecocks — its lone victory a turnover-riddled 44-11 smashing where it gained just 183 yards but won by four touchdowns. Although Jadeveon Clowney is gone, USC's defense should remain cagey with a deep front-seven.
Your rankings. Proceed.
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