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Orlando Cure Bowl will move locations in December

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The fifth year of the Cure Bowl postseason college football game will mark the first time that it’s played at a new venue. The postseason contest that has been staged previously at Camping World stadium near downtown Orlando since 2015, is on the move to the new Orlando City Stadium, home of the MLS franchise.

Orlando Sentinel reporter Matt Murschel had details on the move Wednesday afternoon:

As me Murschel wrote, the game has never drawn more than 20,000 fans in the four match-ups at Camping World Stadium, while the Orlando City venue has a seating capacity of just over 25,000.

He further got comment from Alan Gooch, the executive director of the Cure Bowl, about the decision:

This stadium makes sense for us and our mission to bring teams together to find a way to beat cancer,” said  Gooch. “The optics are going to be great. The sound is going to be great. We’re going to be the first college American football game to play in this venue.

“Our second game in the Cure Bowl was with UCF and Arkansas State and it would have been a sell out in this stadium and that’s what every event operator wants is the opportunity to have a sellout at your event.”

The Cure Bowl, which is raised over $3.5 million for breast cancer research, since the games debut has traditionally involved a representative from the American Athletic Conference in two of the last three years.

The game last year saw Tulane (above) wiped out Louisiana – Lafayette 41-24 in a game was played before an announced crowd of 19,000. UCF also played in the bowl game in December of 2016, where they lost to Arkansas State out of the Sun Belt.

As we wrote yesterday in adding a new bowl game in 2020 at Fenway Park in Boston, the Cure Bowl is one of seven games that the AAC is tied into, now. Camping World stadium will still host the December bowl game of it’s sponsor namesake, and the traditional New Year’s Day Citrus Bowl, as well.

The Cure bowl game hopes to capture the intimacy of the smaller stadium to create a louder environment and has agreed to a four-year deal with Orlando City to host the event.

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Coaches and rosters finalized for East-West Shrine Bowl

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL and the newly-renamed East-West Shrine Bowl are finalizing not only their player rosters, but their coaching staffs for next Saturday’s game in St Petersburg, FL.

Late this week, the longest running college all-star game, the East West Shrine Bowl, named its head coaches, both of whom have ties to the Tampa Bay Area.

Bucs inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell will coach one of the teams, while former Buccaneers and current Falcons tight end coach, Ben Steele will be in charge of the other.

Caldwell, who came to the Buccaneers in Bruce Arians’ first season has been in the NFL for a total of 11 years and had previously served as the assistant head coach and linebackers coach for the New York Jets under Todd Bowles for 4 seasons.

Steele, who has coached in the NFL for seven seasons reunited with Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter  in Atlanta after previously having been his tight end coach in Tampa Bay last year.

Bob Roller, executive director of the East-West Shrine Bowl, said in a statement about the coaching selections,

 “We’re very excited to have Mike Caldwell and Ben Steele as head coaches for our East-West Shrine Bowl all-stars,” said Bob Roller, executive director of the East-West Shrine Bowl. “Ben was a coordinator for our 2019 game and both coaches have ties to the Tampa/St. Pete area. They will lead two strong staffs of NFL assistant coaches that will be invaluable to our players as they begin their own journey to the NFL”

Meanwhile, the rosters do have some Florida flair, as several noteworthy names will be on the East team. That’s led by speedy UCF running back Adrian Killins, Gators wide receiver Freddie Swain and USF tight end Mitchell Wilcox. On the East defensive squad, FAU linebacker Rashad Smith, Miami linebacker Shaq quarterman and UCF defensive back Neville Clark are part of the roster.

This will be the 95th playing of the East-West Shrine Bowl and it boasts 71 Pro Football Hall of Famers that have played in their game. And, they also had more than 300 players who were on an NFL roster for Week 1 last year that have played in the East-West Shrine Bowl.

The game also announced that there will be four legendary mentors working with the players in practices later this week in St Pete. Those include: Hall of Fame offensive lineman Will Shields, Super Bowl Champion defensive end Willie McGinest, as well as, long time safety Bobby Taylor and long time wide receiver Amani Toomer.

The game will be played at Tropicana Field, the home of Major League Baseball Tampa Bay Rays and televised nationally on the NFL Network at 3 p.m., Eastern Time next Saturday.

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New Year’s Day has prominent teams in Florida Bowls

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As the new year begins, traditional college football bowl games will be taking place. And even though there are no Florida teams battling on New Year’s Day, there are two prominent bowl games in the state.

First, two of college football’s “Blue Bloods” play Wednesday afternoon, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Michigan Wolverines will do battle in the VRBO Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

Both programs come off of disappointing end to their regular-season, as they both lost to their rivals. Alabama dropping a wild 48 – 45 game in the Iron Bowl to Auburn and Michigan losing badly 56-27 to Ohio State and their finale at home.

The Tide are without All American caliber quarterback Tua Tagovailoa who suffered a fractured hip late in the year. However, Nick Saban has arguably the best wide receiving corps in all of college football to compensate for Tagovailoa’s absence.

Michigan has perennially under-achieved under coach Jim Harbaugh, but would love nothing better than to score a head-to-head win against Bama in this one.

Meanwhile across I-4 in Tampa, the 25th playing of the Outback Bowl will take place and it’s a first-time matchup between the SEC Auburn Tigers and the big Ten’s Minnesota Golden Gophers.

The Gophers were Darlings of the Big Ten late in the year that they got to 9 – 0 for only the second time in program history before faltering with losses to Iowa and Wisconsin which knock them out of the Big Ten championship game. Their coach P.J. Fleck is the Big Ten coach of the year and has done an amazing job of making Minnesota nationally relevant.

As for the Tigers, we mentioned the victory over Alabama which was particularly sweet for Coach Gus Malzahn, who has been under fire in recent years for not living up to success earlier in the 2010s. Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix, the son of the former Auburn star Patrick Nix, leads a high-powered attack that will look to finish the season on a winning note. The Tigers lost their three biggest games of the year to Florida, LSU, and Georgia, but wins over Alabama and Minnesota will help.

The Gophers have had their most important season since they played in the Rose Bowl in 1962 and would love nothing better than to upset the Tigers in this one.

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