SEC slates: Florida

The hot question in University of Florida football this regular season is: Will the Gators go 12-0 or 11-1?

The answer probably hinges on their Oct. 10 game at LSU. It looks to be the only stern test on Florida's schedule.

Urban Meyer's swamp swine won't repeat as national champs by default but they'll come pretty close. Except for the visit to Baton Rouge, their 2008 slate is ideally suited to a 12-0 run.

Consider:

- The one team that beat Florida last year (Ole Miss) is not on the schedule this year.

- The second-best team in the SEC East (Georgia) is facing an offensive makeover after losing star quarterback Matthew Stafford, star running back Knowshon Moreno, ace fullback Brannan Southerland, quality receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and tight end Tripp Chandler.

- The rest of the SEC East lacks the talent to challenge the Gators.

- Florida's crossover foes from the SEC Western Division are also-rans Arkansas (in Gainesville) and Mississippi State (in Starkville).

- The Gators won't face quality opponents on consecutive weekends all season. They play back-to-back road games at Kentucky (Sept. 26) and at LSU (Oct. 10) but those two games are separated by an open date. Thus, the toughest two-week stretch Florida faces all season shapes up to be Game 3 vs. Tennessee (Sept. 19 in Gainesville) and Game 4 vs. Kentucky (Sept. 26 in Lexington).

- The non-conference schedule consists of two solid teams (Troy, Florida State) and two pushovers (Charleston Southern, Florida International). All four must visit The Swamp.

Troy went 8-5 last season, losing to Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl. FSU went 9-4 last season but couldn't give Florida a game in Tallahassee, losing 45-15. Charleston Southern went 7-5 against Football Championship Subdivision foes, including a 42-0 loss to Liberty. Florida International was 5-7 a year ago, with blowout losses to Kansas (40-6), Iowa (42-0) and Louisiana-Lafayette (49-20).

Bottom line: Other than facing LSU in Baton Rouge, the Gators couldn't have a more favorable schedule if Urban Meyer had arranged it himself.

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