USA TODAY Sports not high on the Gators in preseason re-ranking

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Florida fans are optimistic heading into the 2021 season despite the fact that the team could look very different under quarterback Emory Jones and without star pass-catchers Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes. The Gators are coming off what was probably the best season of the Dan Mullen era, but it resulted in just an 8-4 record despite the team being just six points away from a possible College Football Playoff berth.

The national media at large seems to expect a regression from UF this season as it has to replace a number of starters on offense and tries to fix a defense that was one of the SEC’s worst last year. USA TODAY Sports is no different. In the re-rank of all 130 teams for the preseason from Paul Myerberg, Florida comes in at No. 17 after finishing the 2020 season ranked 14th.

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The Gators have made a New Year’s Six Bowl in every season under Mullen, but repeating that for a fourth-straight season will be no easy task, especially with a schedule that features games against Alabama, Georgia and LSU.

Though it’s a bit of a rebuilding year in Gainesville, it’s also a crucial one for Mullen. If the recruiting deficiencies are becoming a problem, it will become very apparent in 2021.

These rankings still put Florida as the fourth-best team in the SEC behind the Crimson Tide, Bulldogs and Texas A&M, but the Gators also rank behind the likes of Washington, Wisconsin and Iowa.

Mullen will hope to prove the doubters wrong when the team begins play in less than two weeks.

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