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10 Questions: Is the Swamp still an advantage for the Gators?

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Key questions for the upcoming college football schedule:

Can the Gators make it 11 in a row over Tennessee?

It’ll be difficult. If Tennessee didn’t let Oklahoma off the ropes, the Vols would be unbeaten. According to Jeff Sagarin’s power ratings, the Vols are the 21st best team in the country. Florida is 38th. But the Gators’ defense is good enough to keep Florida in the game, even against the explosiveness of quarterback Joshua Dobbs.

How good is the Florida offense?

At this point, we still don’t know. Kentucky is better than most years, but it’s still Kentucky, and New Mexico State and East Carolina are small schools. Against Tennessee, the Gators are sure to find out more about themselves from their playmakers to their quarterback to their running game to their offensive line. Tennessee held Bowling Green, Oklahoma and Western Carolina  to 285 yards rushing.

Can the Swamp still make a difference?

Time was, playing in Gainesville was no fun. It can be loud, and it can be a difference maker. But the Gators lost to Missouri, LSU and South Carolina at home last year and Vandy, Georgia Southern and FSU the year before. For the Gators to win this one, coach Jim McElwain needs for the stadium to turn hostile once again.

Is Will Grier up to the challenge?

It is Grier’s show at quarterback now that Treon Harris has been suspended, allegedly for drugs. Grier has had some moments this year, but he sputtered against Kentucky. Grier doesn’t have to be Danny Wuerffel in this game, or even Tim Tebow, but he does have to pick up key first downs and keep the chains moving. Oh, and he needs to stay healthy.

Should Miami coach Al Golden take heart at the “Keep Al Golden campaign”?

Not necessarily. It’s a movement by FSU fans.

Can Central Florida win a game?

This week, it’s going to be tough. Oh, South Carolina hasn’t been very good either (1-2), but the Gamecocks look to be better than the beaten-up Knights, who are still without quarterback Justin Holman. Both teams may use freshmen quarterbacks in this one. South Carolina is looking for Lorenzo Nunez to go against UCF’s Bo Schneider.

Can FIU slow down Louisiana Tech?

FIU leads Conference USA in defense and ranks 34th nationally. That has the attention of Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz, whose team is off to a 1-2 start after a close loss to Western Kentucky and a three-overtime loss to Kansas State. With Florida transfer Jeff Driskel, however, Tech has a solid offense.

Will FAU score 50?

Well, not quite. But the Owls should have a big day even if starting quarterback Jaquez Johnson can’t play. Opposing Charlotte gave up 695 yards and a 8.9 average to Middle Tennessee last week in a 73-14 loss. Backup quarterback Jason Driskel has had some impressive numbers since Johnson was injured.

Will the FSU offense wake up?

Okay, okay. Technically, the Seminoles are off. But after their sputtering show on offense against Boston College, it’s easy to say that the team needs to refine things before next week’s game at Wake Forest. The Seminoles play Miami the following week.

Will the Tennessee band play Rocky Top 4,000 times?

Probably…by halftime.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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