ESPN's FPI thinks that Florida will be the most-improved team in the country in 2018.
Last year, Florida finished with a disappointing 4-7 record that included losses to Michigan, LSU, Georgia and rival Florida State. As a result, they fired Jim McElwain and hired Dan Mullen.
This year, ESPN thinks the Gators will be the most-improved team in the country. The Worldwide Leader is pegging the Gators to jump 28 spots in its FPI, up to No. 22 overall.
ESPN's reasoning? The Gators actually return 19 starters and have a great deal of talent on their roster from years of top recruiting classes. Here's more:
No team in FPI's top 25 improved its ranking from the end of last season to the preseason more than Florida, which bumped up 28 spots to No. 22. Florida is bringing back 19 starters and has had four-year recruiting ranks in the teens. The Gators also are bringing back Feleipe Franks at quarterback, though after last season Florida fans are probably hoping that new head coach Dan Mullen finds another option to start instead.
ESPN, also, surprisingly, has Clemson ranked at No. 1 over Alabama. The Crimson Tide blanked the Tigers in the College Football Playoff this past January on their way to another national title.
Florida's 2018 schedule could be worse, too. The Gators, in order, will take on Charleston Southern, Kentucky, Colorado State, Tennessee, Mississippi State, LSU, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina, Idaho and Florida State. It's a survivable slate.
The top ten in this year's initial FPI? Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Washington, Auburn, Penn State, Oklahoma and Michigan State.