The Opening Kickoff: Gators vs. Texas A&M

Florida hosts the Aggies for the first time in 55 years on Saturday night at The Swamp. Graphic: Scott MacCord GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators suffered a hard-to-swallow 17-16 loss to LSU a week ago on Homecoming. The Tigers were supposedly reeling, losing at home to Troy the previous week to turn up the heat on head coach Ed Orgeron.

Instead of folding, they came into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and pulled out a win, one they desperately needed.

Fast forward a week and the Gators (3-2, 3-1) face a similar situation as they prepare to host Texas A&M (4-2, 2-1) on Saturday night, marking the Aggies’ first trip to Gainesville in 55 years. Florida is wearing its Nike-designed swamp green alternate Gator-themed uniforms Saturday. (Photo: Tim Casey/UAA Communications) Gator Nation has been testy the past several days. You’ve heard the complaints. The offense needs to produce more. What’s up with those alternate uniforms? Losing to a team that lost to Troy the previous week is unacceptable.

That’s life week-to-week in the Southeastern Conference and now the orange & blue faithful want to see what head coach Jim McElwain and his team have for an Aggies team that lost 27-19 to No. 1-ranked Alabama last weekend.

Texas A&M has its issues, too, but the offense is running well and the defense is improving. The Aggies are trending upward. The Gators are trending downward.

Florida suffered not only a loss to LSU, but in its wake several key players to injuries. A team already short-handed could be minus more players.

McElwain isn’t interested in hearing what the Gators don’t have.

“Everything is still out in front of us,” he said. “How we approach that and how our guys choose to attack that is really going to be interesting. Like I said, I don’t care who is missing, there isn’t any of that. It’s the guys that we have, go out and execute, play your tails off, and that’s what has to happen.”

This is the second meeting between the schools since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012. The Aggies hosted the Gators in their inaugural conference game and Florida rose to the occasion with a 20-17 victory, slowing down freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel before he became known as Johnny Football.

Let’s take a closer look at Saturday’s game with The Opening Kickoff :

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THREE STORYLINES The Gators are at a crucial point in the schedule with Texas A&M at home on Saturday, then a bye week before playing Georgia in Jacksonville. Following the loss to LSU, an 0-3 October looms as a possibility unless the Gators can get healthy and turn up the offensive production.

Texas A&M has faded fast in the second half of recent seasons. However, the Aggies played respectable against No. 1-ranked Alabama and seem to have gained some newfound hope. The Gators could dash that with a win, or the Aggies could leave ‘The Swamp’ with some swagger. Regardless, this matchup is a tone-setter for both programs heading into the heart […]