For twenty years, the Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles were almost always two of college football’s top programs – combining to win five national titles from 1993 to 2013 along with 20 combined conference titles and being consistently ranked among the top 10 teams each week.
In 2021, one of the teams is aiming to prove their slide at the end of last season was a one time thing while the other hopes to end a streak of losing seasons that hasn’t extend this long in nearly a half century.
Can the Florida Gators get back to the SEC Championship Game and maybe sniff out their first ever appearance in the College Football Playoff? Can the FSU Seminoles remember what it was like to finish the season with a winning record after a tumultuous first season under Mike Norvell?
Here’s our breakdown of both the 2021 Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles.
All was going well for the Gators last season heading into the regular season finale – until a thrown shoe ended up costing them one game, the future national champs cost them a SEC crown and a blowout loss in the Cotton Bowl cost them some credibility from what first took place.
Now, head coach Dan Mullen has his hands full with trying to break in a new quarterback, possibly having to revamp the entire offense from pass oriented to a run heavy game while playing a conference slate that will certainly test them from game one.
Biggest question: Who will be the starting quarterback for the Gators this season?
With Kyle Trask now backing up Tom Brady in the NFL, it’s going to be a two-horse race between Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson – and depending on which fan in orange and blue you ask, either one of them could be starting games by the time the end of the season rolls around.
If Jones gets the starting nod against FAU as it appears he will, you can expect the Gators to become more of a run first team – but if Richardson is the starter under center, Florida might be able to keep the same offense that got them to Atlanta last season and playing for a conference crown.
Most Important Game: September 18th vs. Alabama
Sure, it might be coping out to pick arguably the toughest game of the season on paper for the Gators. But, after losing by just six points last season Florida will be hosting the Crimson Tide with hopes that maybe…just maybe…they can pull off the first major upset of the 2021 season.
Florida State Seminoles
While the ‘Noles are the last team among the state’s Big Three programs to bring home a national title, it looks a lot different in Tallahassee as FSU gets ready for the second season under Norvell – the fourth different person to coach the team over the last seven season.
After having their lowest win total since the 1975 season during last year’s campaign, Norvell will be faced with several questions: who will the Seminoles start at quarterback, can the defense play better than the awful performances in 2020 and how will FSU handle a schedule ranked among the nation’s toughest?
Biggest question: Which transfers will be able to help the Seminoles in 2021?
If anyone embraced the transfer portal, it was a Seminoles team that brought in players like quarterback McKenzie Milton from UCF, wide receiver and Fort Lauderdale native Andrew Parchment from Kansas and defensive ends Jermaine Johnson from Georgia and Keir Thomas from South Carolina (via Miami Central).
There is a decent chance that Milton, who at one point was arguably the best quarterback in college football, could be the starter for the opener. But, don’t be surprised if Parchment could be the one that makes the most impact for an offense that missed having a playmaker much of last season.
Most Important Game: September 18th at Wake Forest
Even the biggest Seminoles fan will have to admit that games against Notre Dame, Clemson, North Carolina and Miami are likely losses. What’s going to help FSU turn things around is winning games against teams they are more athletic than and, at least on paper, better than. A loss in Winston-Salem could be bad news.