Consider this weekend the final tuneup for No. 23 Florida before its Sept. 24 showdown on the road against Tennessee. The Gators should have their way with North Texas, a 36-point underdog, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU. Here are five predictions on the eve of the game.
1. Will WR Antonio Callaway miss the game?
Yes. Florida coach Jim McElwain has hinted that over the past two days, though he hasn’t completely ruled him out yet. But there’s no way McElwain and the training staff will risk playing Callaway if he hasn’t fully healed from his quad injury. Another reason: Tennessee is next week.
2. Does the offense gain more than 500 yards?
Yes. Quarterback Luke Del Rio will throw for under 300 yards as Florida’s stable of running backs lead the charge offensively. Lamical Perine rushed for more 100 yards last Saturday, but two ball carries will reach that feat against North Texas, which is ranked No. 105 nationally in run defense.
3. How much will backup QB Austin Appleby play?
At least the fourth quarter. That opportunity didn’t present itself in the season opener, so the Gators must get him indoctrinated before they head to Knoxville. Appleby played a lot at Purdue, but he needs experience with this team so he’ll be prepared if and when his number is called.
4. Does the defense pitch a shutout?
No. Florida’s defense should dominate and create some turnovers for the second straight game. But North Texas will have its moments and put together a couple drives with that uptempo offense. The Gators won’t allow a touchdown like the last two weeks, but they’ll give up a field goal.
5. Who wins?