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Florida’s top football team won’t be the Gators, according to one projection

ESPN’s SP+ projections don’t view UF as a top-10 team and don’t have the Seminoles in the top 60.
The Gators ended the 2020 season with a deflating three-game losing streak, including a blowout loss to Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
The Gators ended the 2020 season with a deflating three-game losing streak, including a blowout loss to Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. [ MICHAEL AINSWORTH | AP ]
Published Feb. 9

The Florida Gators have been the state’s top team for each of Dan Mullen’s first three seasons. That might change this year, according to early advanced metrics.

ESPN’s SP+ projections have Miami, not UF, as the state’s top team this season. The Hurricanes are eighth in the country — four spots ahead of the Gators. SP+ relies on recruiting rankings, returning production and recent history to come up with its projections.

Related: Super Bowl 55: What the Chiefs tell us about Dan Mullen’s Gators

UF loses a lot from last year’s SEC East championship team, including Heisman Trophy finalist Kyle Trask and All-American tight end Kyle Pitts. The Gators have also had some coaching turnover this offseason —most notably the loss of offensive coordinator Brian Johnson to the Eagles.

The biggest unknown around Miami is the health of standout quarterback D’Eriq King, who tore his ACL in the bowl game. He’s expected to be ready for preseason camp.

Reigning national champion Alabama, to the surprise of no one, is No. 1, followed by Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Oregon. Georgia is tops in the SEC East (sixth).

UF and Miami are the state’s only two teams in the top 25. UCF is next (38th), followed by Florida State (61st), Florida Atlantic (97th), USF (104th) and Florida International (114th).

Related: Florida Gators 2021 football schedule released

Other notables that jumped out:

The hype remains strong for North Carolina (10th), led by former FSU commit Sam Howell.

Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies are 13th, which seems a little low after a top-four season.

SP+ projects somewhat of a regression to the mean for two of last year’s darlings, Indiana (27th) and Coastal Carolina (37th). But Louisiana Lafayette is still in the top 25.

ESPN’s full SP+ projections are here.