ESPN ratings: Florida Gators third-strongest team in SEC East behind Tennessee and Georgia

Even after winning the SEC East and finishing with a 10-4 record last season, the Gators aren’t the favorites to win the division this year.

Aaron Medley #25 of the Tennessee Volunteers misses the game winning field goal during a game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Aaron Medley #25 of the Tennessee Volunteers misses the game winning field goal during a game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Florida is the 23rd-strongest college football team entering the 2016 season, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index ratings. That leaves the Gators third in the SEC East behind No. 5 Tennessee and No. 9 Georgia.

The FPI predicts the Gators to win 7.4 games and lose 4.7 games, and lists their schedule as the 49th-toughest in the country. It also gives Florida just a 2.1 percent chance of winning the SEC.

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How does the FPI work? “The Football Power Index (FPI) is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily,” according to the index’s description on ESPN’s website.

As for the other big in-state programs? Florida State is ranked as the second-strongest team and Miami is ranked as the 26th-strongest team.

SEC FPI ratings with record prediction:

1. LSU (No. 1 nationally) 10.5-2.1
2. Tennessee (No. 5 nationally) 10.2-2.4
3. Alabama (No. 6 nationally) 8.8-3.3
4. Ole Miss (No. 7 nationally) 8.1-4.0
5. Georgia (No. 9 nationally) 8.9-3.4
6. Texas A&M (No. 14 nationally) 7.3-4.7
7. Auburn (No. 21 nationally) 6.6-5.4
8. Mississippi State (No. 22 nationally) 7.3-4.7
9. Florida (No. 23 nationally) 7.4-4.7
10. Arkansas (No. 27 nationally) 6.5-5.5
11. South Carolina (No. 39 nationally) 6.2-5.8
12. Missouri (No. 50 nationally) 5.5-6.5
13. Vanderbilt (No. 54 nationally) 4.6-7.4
14. Kentucky (No. 55 nationally) 5.0-7.0