Billy Napier was considered a home run hire when the Gators poached him from Louisiana before the 2022 season. However, his first year in Gainesville left some wondering if he could be “the guy.” In our Florida season predictions, we break down how the Gators match up with each team on their schedule.
Florida Season Predictions: Predicting the Game-by-Game Results
Using groupthink, College Football Network analysts have painstakingly gone through every game for every team in the SEC and across the country.
Picking these games straight up with a projected score using the rosters as up-to-date as the last spring practice, the Florida season predictions indicate what fans can possibly expect for the Gators in 2023.
Week 1 — Florida @ Utah: Loss, 17-25 (0-1)
The Gators draw the toughest competition in week one of any SEC team. The Utah Utes have a reputation for Smash Mouth football, and while the Gators would normally be able to match up as an SEC squad, I’m not sure this team is tough enough up the middle to stick with Utah. All three of our experts have this as a loss for the Gators as they find it difficult to score on the Utes.
Week 2 — Florida vs. McNeese State: Win, 37-7 (1-1)
While the Gators have struggled in the past with FCS squads, we don’t think they’ll have much trouble in week two against McNeese State. The Cowboys ended last season on a three-game winning streak but struggled with most quality FCS competition.
I’m personally interested to see if Graham Mertz has solidified the starting job, or if one of the other young guys will get a chance to play with the first team.
Week 3 — Florida vs. Tennessee: Loss, 18-34 (1-2, 0-1 SEC)
There’s certainly no shame in conceding points to a high-powered Tennessee offense, but the Florida defense won’t be the issue in late September. I’m certainly not sold on Mertz as a starter, and judging by some of Napier’s media day comments, I’m not entirely sure he is either. The Florida offense could be a mess at times in 2023, and these are the games that you can’t win without consistently scoring points.
Week 4 — Florida vs. Charlotte: Win, 30-13 (2-2, 0-1 SEC)
The early returns on the Biff Poggi era of Charlotte football have been strong according to his work in the transfer portal. That being said, the Gators should be able to handle business here.
Last season, the 49ers had one of the worst defenses in all of FBS football, and a few transfers won’t remedy that in just a season. At least for one game, the Gator offense should look somewhat competent.
Week 5 — Florida @ Kentucky: Win, 24-23 (3-2, 1-1 SEC)
While the Gators might no longer have a 52-year winning streak over the Wildcats, it doesn’t mean that they don’t hold a bit of a mental edge. Cam Mellor and I each have the Gators squeaking out a victory on the road. Oliver Hodgkinson gives this one to the Wildcats.
Week 6 — Florida vs. Vanderbilt: Win, 25-23 (4-2, 2-1 SEC)
Vanderbilt shocked Florida in Nashville last season, and for that reason, I think the Gators will be ready when the Commodores come to Gainesville. All three of our analysts gave this one to Florida by the narrowest of margins. I think the Gator offensive line is big enough and talented enough to have its way with Vanderbilt’s defensive front.
Week 7 — Florida @ South Carolina: Loss, 22-31 (4-3, 2-2 SEC)
There’s no way to nicely say it: Florida utterly destroyed South Carolina in 2022. In fact, the only Gamecock score in a 32-point loss was a touchdown pass from the punter to a walk-on. Shane Beamer should have his squad ready in Columbia this season, and I actually think the Gamecocks are more talented. The Gators will have a tough time stopping what is actually a high-powered South Carolina offense.
Week 9 — Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville): Loss, 9-30 (4-4, 2-3 SEC)
It’s not just the Gators who are outmatched by Georgia, as most of the SEC will likely suffer the same fate. It may look a bit uglier for the Gators, as the Georgia defense has the ability to completely shut down a weaker Florida offense.
Week 10 — Florida vs. Arkansas: Loss, 26-29 (4-5, 2-4 SEC)
Our experts are split on this one, as Mellor has this as a home blowout loss for the Gators, and Hodgkinson has Florida beating Arkansas. I fall in the middle, giving it to the Razorbacks in a modest four-point game. If I had to pick between the two sides, I lean Mellor’s way and think it’s more likely that Florida gets blown out than that it wins at home.
Week 11 — Florida @ LSU: Loss, 18-39 (4-6, 2-5 SEC)
If Florida’s season goes the way we’ve predicted, this could be where the wheels fall off. In front of what will likely be a sellout Death Valley crowd at night, the Gators have an opportunity to either make it a game against the Tigers or roll over and get blown out. If the latter happens, it could have repercussions that go far beyond this single Saturday in November.
Week 12 — Florida @ Missouri: Win, 21-20 (5-6, 3-5 SEC)
While none of us believe Missouri is very good, we’re actually split on this game. Here, I’m the odd man out, picking against the Gators in what I think could be this year’s version of the 2022 Vanderbilt meltdown. It’s very possible we could see what the mental makeup of this team is as the Gators go on the road for a winnable game after a brutal stretch of football in the previous weeks.
With Florida State looming in Week 13, this could be an extremely important game in terms of bowl eligibility.
Week 13 — Florida vs. Florida State: Loss, 20-31 (5-7, 3-5 SEC)
While Florida and Miami are still trying to find their footing under new coaches, it looks like Florida State is making its way back as a contender. Rivalry games are always tricky to predict, and the Gators may just be playing for pride in this one. Jordan Travis is one of the top quarterbacks in the country, and Florida will have its hands full keeping him out of the end zone.