A year of anticipation is about to get underway for the Florida Gators and the SEC media has voted on what they believe will happen for the league championship and also for the prominent players.
First, the conference concluded its “Media Days” on Thursday and on Friday morning it released the voting of over 200 media members on which schools will play in the SEC title game in December and then, they also announced the top three All Conference teams:
Not surprisingly, Alabama and Georgia were picked to rematch in the 2019 Championship Game to be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta:
NEWS | Media predicts @AlabamaFTBL to win SEC in a rematch of the SEC Championship game
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) July 19, 2019
The Tide received 253 place votes to win the West division. LSU was second with only five first-place votes.
Meanwhile for the Bulldogs, they received 233 first-place votes to win the East division with the Gators as the second-place team getting 21 first-place votes. The media then voted overwhelmingly that Alabama would repeat as SEC Champions, as they received 203 of the votes to win the title game for December 7th.
As the conference noted, only seven times since 1992 has the media correctly predicted the SEC champion. They did, however, get it right a year ago, when Alabama came from behind to defeat Georgia in the second most watched SEC Championship Game ever.
As for the “All SEC” preseason teams, the highest-ranking offensive gator is running back Lamical Perine (above), who was placed on the second team for 2019.
Perine appeared at the media days earlier this week, and he is the leading returning rusher with 826 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago on the ground. The senior will be counted on to help balance the offense, as the best experienced back out of the backfield.
The top-ranking gator on defense is pass-rusher Jabari Zuniga who was named to the first team preseason All SEC on Friday. He started all 13 games a year ago and was second with 11 tackles for loss plus 6.5 sacks. The red shirt senior is expected to help fill the shoes of Jachai Polite, who entered the NFL draft after last season, as Florida’s best pass rushing weapon.
Linebacker David Reese was included on the 2nd team all-conference, and also, Gators punter Tommy Townsend was named to the conference second team.
Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday
The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.
The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:
Coast to coast❗
🐻 at 🐊 2026
🐊 at 🐻 2027#GoGators
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) February 7, 2020
A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.
With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.
As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.
Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.
It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.
Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.
Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools
National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.
The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of former DB C.J. Henderson.
Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.
The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.
Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?
Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.
The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.
Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.
Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.