GatorZone.com Senior Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators open the 2013 season in 10 days at home against Toledo.
It's the second season in a row the Gators open against a team from Ohio they have never played in more than 100 years of football. Florida defeated Bowling Green in the 2012 season opener.
With the release of the Gators' 2014 schedule on Wednesday, we learned the streak of facing a first-time opponent in the season opener continues next year.
The Vandals are visiting The Swamp -- the Idaho Vandals.
Following the implosion of the Western Athletic Conference, the Vandals are playing as an independent in 2013. By the time Idaho shows up at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Aug. 30, 2014, the Vandals will be in the Sun Belt Conference.
The Gators have a lot of football to play before they start preparing for Idaho and the 2014 season. Still, it's never too early to look ahead when talking Gators football.
So, without further adieu, let's take a game-by-game look at Florida's 2014 schedule:
Aug. 30: IDAHO
The scoop: The Vandals fell on hard times in 2012. They finished 1-11 and were left without a conference. They won't come to Gainesville without knowledge of the Southeastern Conference. First-year coach Paul Petrino was hired to recharge the program after serving on brother Bobby's coaching staff at Arkansas. If the Gators ever decide to play the Vandals at the Kibbie Dome on Idaho's campus in Moscow, Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease can tell them all about it. Pease was born in Moscow.
Sept. 6: EASTERN MICHIGAN
The scoop: The Eagles have visited The Swamp once before, losing 41-10 in the 2004 opener in Ron Zook's final season as Florida's head coach. Eastern Michigan veteran coach Ron English hired a well-traveled offensive coordinator over the winter, bringing in Stan Parrish, who was Jon Gruden's quarterbacks coach with the Bucs when they won the Super Bowl after the 2002 season.
Sept. 13: KENTUCKY
The scoop: The Gators will open their SEC schedule against an opponent other than Tennessee for the first time in 13 years. Kentucky was the opponent then too, when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks postponed the Florida-Tennessee game until later in the season. Barring a surprise before next season, it will be first-year Kentucky coach Mark Stoops' first visit to Gainesville as a head coach.
Sept. 20: at ALABAMA
The scoop: The good news is that by the time the Gators visit Bryant-Denny Stadium, the Crimson Tide quarterback won't be anyone named AJ McCarron. Still, as long as Nick Saban is in Tuscaloosa, you know this game will be a tough one for the Gators. It will be the first meeting between Gators coach Will Muschamp and his former boss on Saban's home turf.
Oct. 4: at TENNESSEE
The scoop: You have to go back to Steve Spurrier's second season (1991) to find Tennessee pop up so late on the original regular-season schedule. The Gators get the Vols in head coach Butch Jones' first season at home. If Jones has a good first season in Knoxville, you can bet a different shade of orange will be packed into Neyland Stadium when the Gators visit in 2014.
Oct. 11: LSU
The scoop: The LSU-Florida rivalry lives and we should all be thankful even if LSU coach Les Miles isn't the biggest fan of the matchup. This is one of the SEC's most entertaining rivalries and has produced some great games over the years. The Gators will gladly take a repeat of last year's game at The Swamp when they won, 14-6, to shoot up the national polls.
Oct. 18: MISSOURI
The scoop: The Tigers learned about SEC football the hard way a year ago in their first season in the league. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel's quest this season is to find a formula for success. If he doesn't, the Tigers could be coming back to Gainesville without him based on the league's hot-seat meter.
Nov. 1: GEORGIA (in Jacksonville)
The scoop: The best game on the schedule every year if you ask the guy typing this sentence. Of course, Muschamp might not agree with that assessment. He never beat the Gators when he played at Georgia and he is 0-2 against the Bulldogs as Florida's coach. If the Gators can get the best of the Bulldogs this season, Muschamp will be going for a win streak against his alma mater in 2014.
Nov. 8: at VANDERBILT
The scoop: These are not your older brother's Commodores or your dad's or grandfather's. These are James Franklin's Commodores and they won nine games last season, their most wins since 1915. As long as Franklin is calling the shots on the sidelines, Vanderbilt looms a dangerous threat on Saturday afternoons.
Nov. 15: SOUTH CAROLINA
The scoop: The Gators offensive line can take a deep breath: Gamecocks defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney won't be at this one unless he has a bye week in the NFL. Of course, Spurrier will be and that is always enough to make this game one of the season's most anticipated.
Nov. 22: EASTERN KENTUCKY
The scoop: Following a grueling eight-game stretch against SEC rivals, the Gators welcome the Colonels to town. Muschamp used to be a Colonel. He was Eastern Kentucky's secondary coach in 1999 in his second season as a full-time assistant coach.
Nov. 29: at FLORIDA STATE
The scoop: The Gators snapped a two-game losing streak to the Seminoles last season in Tallahassee. They will return to Doak Campbell Stadium and try to make it two in a row in enemy territory. Florida and FSU climbed back toward the top of the polls last year and if they continue their upward trek, no telling what will be at stake in this one.