Florida among unranked teams that could finish in top 10, per CBS Sports

·3 min read

Florida football has less than a week before it begins its 2023 campaign, one that carries lofty expectations from the Gator Nation while most of those outside of Gainesville are tempering their projections for Billy Napier’s debut season.

Hopes are high that the program can recover from the crash and burn that followed the end of the Dan Mullen era. But on the other hand, both the Coaches Poll and AP Top 25 have the Orange and Blue buried in their respective preseason votes, giving the Gators a steep hill to climb in returning to respectability.

One member of the media, however, thinks that Florida could make some noise and finish in the top 10. CBS Sports’ David Cobb recently published his five unranked preseason AP Top 25 teams that he thinks could crack the top tier of the polls by the end of the season, a list that includes the Gators along with the Penn State Nittany Lions, Texas Longhorns, Tennessee Volunteers and LSU Tigers.

Here is what Cobb had to say about Napier’s 2022 squad.

Florida is all the way down at a tie for No. 37 in the AP poll. The Gators received just 14 votes following a 6-7 season and the coaching transition from Dan Mullen to Billy Napier. However, this program is also less than one calendar year removed from taking eventual SEC champion Alabama down to the wire and less than two years removed from winning the SEC East.

The Gators have a potential star at quarterback in Anthony Richardson and a track record of popping under first-year coaches. UF’s past seven coaches have led their teams to the top 15 at some point in their first season, and six of those seven coaches had the Gators as high as the top 10. Only Mullen and Galen Hall finished their debut seasons with a top-10 team, but that’s a still an incredible hit rate in a league as tough as the SEC.

A cross-division trip to No. 6 Texas A&M the week after playing Georgia, along with a tough opening stretch against No. 7 Utah and Kentucky, make for a big-boy schedule in 2022, but those quirks also present huge opportunities for Florida to become a surprise player on the national stage.

There are a lot of “ifs” involved and Lady Luck would play a large role, but if Richardson can step up and carry this team the way his raw talent suggests he can, it is not unfathomable that the Gators finish among the best in the nation. However, the likelihood of that happening is extremely slim as it would require a perfect storm of events to fall in Florida’s favor.

But hey, it is college football. Anything can happen.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire