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Must-win and trap games of 2017: Florida Gators

If the Gators are going to make it to three straight SEC championships, they are going to have to get a key win away from the Swamp. Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

There are 12 regular-season games, but they’re not all created equal.

To help get prepared for next season, we’re looking at every SEC team’s must-win and trap games.

Next up is Florida.

Must-win game: After Jim McElwain's first two seasons in Gainesville, it's almost as if we should just expect the Gators to be in Atlanta for the SEC championship game. After all, he's won back-to-back East titles and when you look at this season, McElwain has his best overall schedule yet. Michigan and Florida State open and close the regular season, but FSU has to play in Gainesville, as do Tennessee, LSU and Texas A&M. If the Gators are going to make it to three straight SEC championships, they are going to have to get a key win away from the Swamp. That'll come on Oct. 28 when the Gators travel the short distance to Jacksonville, Florida, to face East rival Georgia. The Bulldogs return 10 starters on defense and still have Jacob Eason, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel in their backfield. The Bulldogs are becoming the trendy favorite to dethrone the Gators, and by all indications, the winner of this game will play in Atlanta.

Trap game: A week after looking for revenge against a Tennessee team that clawed back from a 21-3 deficit to run away from the Gators in Knoxville last year and stop an 11-game losing streak in the series, Florida will have to be on high alert when it travels to Lexington to face Kentucky on Sept. 23. After making it back to a bowl game for the first time since 2010, the Wildcats are not a team to sleep on in 2017. A strong backfield and the emergency of some true offensive threats at receiver have the Cats on the prowl and ready to try and push East stalwarts Florida and Georgia. The Gators haven't lost to Kentucky since 1987, making it 30 straight for Florida in this series. The Gators have also lost just four games in Lexington, so don't count on any sort of intimidation factor for this team. However, coming off what should be an emotional game with Tennessee and having to go on the road to face a team hungry for another signature win under Mark Stoops sounds like the perfect stumbling block for the Gators.