HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Dan Mullen made a big leap in his second season at Mississippi State, but his Florida team doesn’t have quite so much room to grow.

Unless, of course, the Gators can jump to national contender status. That’s what another four-win improvement would mean.

The Bulldogs won five games after Mullen took over in 2009 and nine the following season. The Gators went 10-3 in his debut season and finished with a No. 7 ranking, a spot shared with Georgia.

“So if we can go from 10 to 14, that would be pretty good,” Mullen said. “This year, I would take that. I think a lot of it, I think, comes from year one to year two. I think coming in now, everyone understands the program.”

His players are more familiar with the program and coaching staff, and quarterback Feleipe Franks returns.

All that raises expectations for this season when Florida hopes to challenge defending Eastern Division champion Georgia.

Florida gets a big early test, opening the season Aug. 24 against Miami in Orlando.

The Gators finished last season with two emphatic wins. They beat Florida State 41-14 and then routed Michigan 41-15 in the Peach Bowl.

“We worked our tails off to be at that moment, on that stage, and win that game,” Franks said. “As a team, we earned to be on that stage. I think that if we keep that momentum rolling, we can have a special year again this year.”