Ranking Florida’s 2017 opponents from easiest to most difficult

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Over the past couple months, Inside the Gators has taken a close look at each team that Florida will face throughout the course of the 2017 season. Today, we rank all 12 opponents on the schedule from easiest to most difficult.

In the Alley, join our discussion and share how you’d rank all of the opponents on the Gators’ 2017 schedule in terms of toughness.

(Linked with each ranking below are our in-depth reviews of each opponent on Florida’s 2017 regular-season schedule).

12. Northern Colorado (Sept. 9; Gainesville, Florida): After a high-profile season-opener against Michigan, the Gators will play its home-opener against the Bears – a game that Florida should win by a hefty margin. (We italicize "should," considering the Gators haven’t consistently blitzkreiged cupcake opponents like they should over the years). Northern Colorado, an FCS squad, went 6-5 last year but has since lost 22 seniors from last year’s team, including a number of key contributors on both sides of the ball.

11. UAB (Nov. 18; Gainesville, Florida): After a two-year hiatus, the Blazers football program will finally return to FBS action in 2017. UAB does have some select talented players on each side of the ball, but there are still many holes at multiple positions that need to be addressed over time – which is natural considering the circumstances the team has had to go through starting from scratch. As a tune-up before FSU week, the Gators should win this one easily.

10. Missouri (Nov. 4, Columbia, Missouri): The Tigers are better and more experienced on each side of the ball as compared to a year ago, but Barry Odom’s squad went just 4-8 and finished last in the SEC East in his first season as head coach in 2016. Mizzou returns quarterback Drew Lock and plenty of talented skill-position players, but the defense has a lot to replace. Ever since the infamous 2014 debacle, Florida has outscored Missouri in two contests 61-17. The Gators will likely be heavily favored in this one, if they can avoid the injury bug.

9. Vanderbilt (Sept. 30; Gainesville, Florida): Over the course of three seasons, the Commodores gradually improved under Derek Mason’s watch. Last season, they were bowl eligible while defeating Georgia, Ole Miss and Tennessee along the way. The Gators get the ‘Dores at home this time following last year’s 13-6 result – and Florida has lost to Vandy just once since 1988. The Commodores could give the Gators a challenge once again, but Florida may be favored again entering this one to cap off a busy September. 8. Kentucky (Sept. 23; Lexington, Kentucky): Florida has owned this rivalry, winning the past 30 meetings against Kentucky. (That’s the longest active winning streak […]