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Florida is always loaded with football talent. There are some surprises this year and some interesting story lines.

 

First, four of my top five will have new coaches this year with only Miami starting 2018 with the same guy who ended 2017. Transition is never easy, but it gets especially tough when expectations are so high.

 

  1. Miami - Miami is the only legitimate challenger for Clemson for ACC supremacy this season. The Hurricanes are loaded with talent and Mark Richt is settling nicely here. A Top 10 national ranking to start the season validates the strength of this team.
  2. UCF – The Knights will prove that 2017 was no fluke. They will not run the table again, but on any given Saturday, this team can run with anybody in the country. Doubters were humbled when the Knights were able to turn back Auburn in the Peach Bowl to show that they can hang and beat a top tier SEC program. Milton is back at QB, they are deep at the skill positions, and they are hungry again after voters in the final poll snubbed them.
  3. Florida State – This was a toss-up with USF. If Taggart stayed at USF, I might give them the bump, but with Willie venturing  to Tallahassee, the Seminoles get the edge. That said, they always have a way of underachieving with all the talent they have on their roster. I don’t think their talent base is as strong, but they will see some growing pains this season. Straight up, they lose to UCF and barely eke out against USF.
  4. USF – It took USF a few years to rebuild, but there are legitimately in the thick of things again. They has talent in the skill positions and a good defense. The new coaching staff will continue to build their toughness and they will be contenders in the AAC race. USF vs UCF is probably a better matchup this year than the annual matchups of Miami, FSU and Florida.
  5. Florida – New coach Dan Mullen has a project here. The Gators are a mess right now. They have some talent, as they always do, but putting it all together has been their problem of late. Hard to give them more credit than finishing ahead of Florida Atlantic.
  6. Florida Atlantic – Speaking of Florida Atlantic, Lane Kiffin has actually turned FAU into a team with real aspirations. While they don’t have the talent of the big boys yet, they are following the reverse script and recruiting out of states to come play in Florida. Unique opportunity, but it has been working so far. But, they still have a big gap to overcome.
  7. FIU – Sorry FIU,  you still have a way to go to catch up.
  8. Florida A&M – Hey, someone has to finish last and this year it is the Rattlers.

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