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ESPN’s FPI ranks Florida as top-20 team with nation's hardest schedule

On3 imageby:Zach Abolverdi06/05/24

ZachAbolverdi

ESPN has released its first edition of the 2024 Football Power Index, as well as the top 10 hardest schedules this season. The Florida Gators are included in both categories.

To no one’s surprise, UF will face college football’s toughest schedule according to ESPN’s FPI. The top 10 includes Mississippi State, Georgia, Kentucky, Auburn, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Texas.

ESPN’s Football Power Index is higher than most on the 2024 Gators, who play seven teams in the top 25. Florida is ranked No. 20 nationally with an FPI of 10.1, which ranks 11th among SEC schools.

Although the Gators are a preseason top-20 team, ESPN’s FPI projects them to finish the season at .500 with a win-loss record of 5.9-6.1.

At least one ESPN writer disagrees with Florida’s top-20 ranking, with Mark Schlabach picking UF as a team that the FPI is overvaluing.

“Florida went 11-14 in coach Billy Napier’s first two seasons, and I’m not sure the Gators will be much better in 2024 because of their brutal schedule. Florida plays nonconference games against Miami and Florida State, and faces a brutal SEC slate that includes road games at Tennessee and Texas and home games against Texas A&M, LSU and Ole Miss — as well as its annual showdown against Georgia in Jacksonville, Florida. The Gators lost tailback Trevor Etienne, who transferred to Georgia, and leading receiver Ricky Pearsall, who left for the NFL. Quarterback Graham Mertz was efficient in his first season at Florida, but he was sacked 31 times behind a bad offensive line. Napier blew up his defensive coaching staff after the Gators ranked 78th in the FBS in scoring defense (27.6 points) and 71st in total defense (382.3 yards).”

According to ESPN’s FPI, the Gators have a 58.2% chance of winning six games, a 0.7% chance of winning the conference, an 8.3% chance of making the College Football Playoffs, a 0.7% chance of making the championship game and a 0.3% chance of winning the national title.

Per ESPN, the Football Power Index is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 20,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule.

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