College Football in Florida: How Do the Teams Shape Up?

September 1, 2023 by Staff

College football changes from year to year. It's the nature of the beast as several factors define whether a college team experiences a successful season. Think about it. Some college stars leave while others remain and adapt to the new rosters as rookie players come in. Then there are factors like recruitment and the strength of the schedule to consider. Team success is never guaranteed.

With the above in mind, let's assess what the 2023/24 season holds for nine of Florida's college football teams. We'll start with the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats and work through the teams in alphabetical order. 

Bethune-Cookman Wildcats

After an underwhelming 2-9 season last time out, the Wildcats parted company with head coach Terry Simms. In Simms's place for 2023/24 is the unproven, former assistant coach of Florida State and Florida Atlantic, Raymond Woodie, Jr.

It's unlikely that the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats will experience any change in fortunes until Woodie, Jr. has time to shape his roster. With no standout new recruits to mention, it appears the best the Wildcats can hope for is a gradual upturn in results under their new head coach.

Central Florida Knights

Five out of the last six seasons have seen the UCF outfit win at least nine times. 2023/24 promises to be more difficult as, for the first time in its history, the Knights will compete in the Big 12 Power 5 conference.

The waters are thus untested for the Central Florida Knights this season. The team will play seven new opponents, including last year's conference champions, the Kansas State Wildcats. The rest of their opposition comes from other newly-promoted teams with similar records. It will likely be a more difficult season for the Knights. Many bookmakers on a list of the top 10 sites here seem to agree, with most ranking the UCF Knights seventh in the Big 12, with +3000 odds to claim the conference title in 2023 and +35000 to win the National Championship. 

Edward Waters Tigers

The Edward Waters football program is, without doubt, the smallest in the Sunshine State. This doesn't mean the Tigers have the least successful football roster, though. Coming off a four-game winning streak to end last season, confidence is likely sky-high for the upcoming campaign.

Head coach Toriano Morgan has grown his roster well over the last few years, with three of those consecutive wins being by over 25 points. The bottom line, though, is that despite the winning finish, the team still ended with a 5-6 losing record. The Edward Waters Tigers will look to change that this term.

Florida A&M Rattlers

Under head coach Willie Simmons, in charge at Florida A&M University for more than five seasons, the Rattlers won their last nine games of 2022/23. The team will hope for a better start to 2023/24 than last season when they lost their first two games. From there, though, the Rattlers's season was unbeaten. With an experienced coach and a settled squad, the team looks good for 2023/24.

The Florida A&M Rattlers won't be easy pickings for any team. Could this result in an unbeaten season? Only time will tell.

Florida Atlantic Owls

Former Texas and Houston coach Tom Herman replaces Willie Taggart as head coach at FAU as the Owls move into 2023/24. Herman's successful Houston experience in the American Athletic Conference will come in handy. The Owls will play their football in the AAC this season.

Named as one of the top four recruiting colleges in Conference USA for seven of the past eight years, FAU should adjust to its new conference easily. With four new opponents this term, Herman's knowledge of the opposition will be invaluable. He may struggle more with the Owls's four non-conference opponents. With an overall 5-6 record last season, FAU may struggle against this opposition.

Florida Gators

Before the 6-7 records in each of the last two seasons, the Gators hadn't endured consecutive losing seasons since the late '70s. To compound matters, standout quarterback Anthony Richardson is on his way to the NFL. Head coach Billy Napier didn't exactly endear himself to University of Florida patrons in his first season in charge either. It seems all 'doom and gloom', but are there any positives?

Napier now has a first season in charge under his belt, which is a positive element. The recruiting side of the Gators also remains strong. The University of Florida has ranked in the top half of SEC recruiting for most of the last decade. Besides those, with a fixture schedule containing a national title holder and three other conference champions, the season could be long for the Florida Gators. 

Florida State Seminoles

Unlike the Gators, the Florida State Seminoles look in good shape for 2023/24. Coming off a strong winning season last time out, a settled roster and a favorable schedule will help their cause. Head coach Mike Norvell welcomes back three star players from last year. Quarterback Jordan Travis, defensive end Jared Verse, and wide receiver Johnny Wilson, among several others, all return.

Apart from a tough trip to the Clemson Tigers, the Seminoles's schedule looks winnable. If everything works out, the team could even improve on the 10-3 record from last year. For Norvell and his settled roster, 2023/24 could end as a standout season. Bettors would do well to keep an eye on the odds on offer for Florida State Seminoles fixtures through the season.

Miami Hurricanes

By their high standards, 2022/23 was a nightmare season for the Miami Hurricanes. A 5-7 record left the University of Miami team as the lowest-ranked of the so-called "Big Three" in the Sunshine State. As a top-four recruiter in the ACC for the last dozen years, there won't be any panic. Head coach Mario Cristobal is also entering his second year in charge, so the roster is already more settled.

There will be some bumps in the road this time out, but Cristobel should have adjusted more to his role. The Hurricanes recruiters have obviously brought in some new talent to join a fairly settled existing squad. The Miami Hurricanes will bounce back strongly - the only question is if 2023/24 will be the year this happens.

West Florida Argonauts

Last, but not least, we look at the West Florida Argonauts' chances of success in 2023/24. Based on a strong 12-2 record last season, the Argonauts are looking at further success in Division II this time around. In only six seasons as a Division II program, the Argos tasted much success. West Florida has a national title and qualified for two national championships. They've also made four play-offs.

Only one thing has changed since last year, and it could make quite a difference. Long-time head coach Pete Shinnick has departed. New-appointee Kaleb Nobles will thus be under pressure to maintain the forward momentum of the UWC team. Shinnock did mentor the young and inexperienced Nobles, so he'll know the previous coach's methods. All looks good in West Florida right now.