Here in Florida, college football is more than just something to watch on Saturday afternoons.
Home games are the type of events that attract people from all over the state to descend on a few particular stadiums just to cheer on their favorite teams.
Residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills are fortunate to be located within driving distance of five different major college football programs.
Even if you don’t root for one of the Florida teams, there is a good chance that one of your favorite teams from back home plays against one of them.
Here is a quick rundown of what each team will look like this year and some of the great matchups to look out for:
Fans of the Gators will agree that 2013 was one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory. The team slid to a 4-8 record behind an offense that struggled to do just about anything right. With a new offensive coordinator and lots of exciting young players on the offensive side of the ball, there should be a few more points scored this year, and the defense looks to be as dominant as ever.
One of the biggest concerns for the Gators is the fact that they still have to play an incredibly tough SEC schedule. Of course, that also means that there will be plenty of great teams coming through Gainesville again this season.
After what should be three easy wins against Idaho, Eastern Michigan, and Kentucky at home to start the year, the team will play three huge home games in a row down the stretch against LSU, Missouri, and Georgia. There is also a mid-November showdown against South Carolina!
The Gators play their home games in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, which is better known as “The Swamp.” It is only about an hour and fifteen-minute drive from us and has a capacity of more than 88,000 chomping Gators fans.
South Florida Bulls
The South Florida Bulls got off to a rough start last year when they were rocked by McNeese State in their opener. They ended up stumbling to a 2-10 record, however their defense was able to finish the year ranked in the top 25 in the country.
As usual, the Bulls will be starting their season with some difficult non-conference games. After their opener against Western Carolina, they will be hosting Maryland, NC State, and Connecticut. There are also big matchups at home against Houston and UCF later in the year.
South Florida plays their home games in Raymond James Stadium, which is also the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The stadium is located about 90 minutes south of our community and seats over 65,000.
Florida State Seminoles
The Seminoles of Florida State are the hottest team in the state this year. After an undefeated National Championship season in 2013 behind quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, head coach Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles enter the 2014 as the top ranked team in the nation.
If Florida State does repeat as National Champs, it will be a tough road to get there. They open their season with a difficult home game against Oklahoma State, and things won’t get any easier as they also will host Clemson, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Boston College, and Florida this year.
At a little over three hours away from the Villages of Citrus Hills, Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee is a bit of a longer drive, but it might be well worth the drive if they’re going up against one of your favorite teams.
After a breakout 12-1 season last year, the Knights from the University of Central Florida have to be considered the favorites to win the AAC again this season.
Despite the loss of quarterback Blake Bortles, now playing in the NFL for the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Knights are returning an outstanding defense and are adding to it with younger talent.
The 2014 home game schedule for UCF features games against BYU, Tulane, Temple, Tulsa, and SMU. The biggest home game of the year will be the opener, which is a non-conference matchup against Penn State on Saturday, August 30.
The Knights play their home games in Bright House Stadium, just east of Orlando. It is less than a two hour drive from the Villages of Citrus Hills.
While the University of Miami is a little bit more than four hours away from the Villages of Citrus Hills, it is hard to talk about college football in Florida without at least mentioning the Hurricanes. They will be looking to improve on last year’s 9-4 season, and will be hosting exciting teams like Duke, Cincinnati, North Carolina, Florida State, and Pitt.
Miami plays their home games in Sun Life Stadium, which has a capacity of over 80,000.
As you can see, not only are their plenty of great college football teams that call Florida home, there are also lots of great teams from all over the country that will be coming to Florida to play against our teams this year.
This fall, residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills will be able to see big-name teams like LSU, Notre Dame, North Carolina, South Carolina, Clemson, and Penn State, all within a few hours drive of home!