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Florida Gators

Florida-FSU renew their rivalry Saturday night

Jamil King

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Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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Florida and Florida State are set to meet up for their yearly rivalry game Saturday. The two programs are currently going into two different trajectories.

The Gators are looking to make a second straight New Years Six game under Dan Mullen. The Noles are scrambling, but looking to end the season strong with intern coach Odell Haggins.

This game will not match those of 1990-2000 when every matchup was a top 10 affair but despite these two teams being in two different positions, that doesn’t mean this can not be a good game.

Before the Noles parted ways with Willie Taggart, many would have said they expect the Gators to run the Noles out of Gainesville. Since Haggins has taken over, FSU has looked like a different team playing harder. The Noles also have yet to face any stiff competition with Haggins in charge; this will be his first actual test and maybe his only test.

A decisive loss here and that could very well end any consideration for him becoming the long-term coach. A win, however, and that could boost his stock up for this job like never before.

For the Noles to win this game, they will have to do something they have struggled to do this season, and that is play a complete game and finish. Don’t expect the Noles to win in blowout fashion, so they will need to keep the game close and make Florida have to make some pressure plays. They will need to put up points to keep up in this game, and that starts at quarterback.

The Noles have had QB James Blackman running the show with the speed of third string QB Jordan Travis coming in here and there, to run the ball. Backup QB Alex Hornibrook was back at practice this week, and it will be interesting to see what the Noles do with the most important position on the offense.

On the other side of the field, the Gators have relied on Kyle Trask, and he has delivered with a 66.8 completion percentage and 21 touchdowns. The Gators will be throwing a lot in this game Florida State has the 114th ranked pass defense. The Gators also have the 12th ranked total defense.

This will be the second-best defense the Noles will face all season. With all of the problems the FSU O-line has had this year, look for Gators DC Todd Grantham to get creative and send some well-designed blitzes at the Noles.

RB Cam Akers and WR Tamorrian Terry have been the whole offense for the Noles this season. Expect the Gators to key in on those two play-makers and force someone else to step up. The Gators haven’t beaten FSU at home since the Tim Tebow days, ten years ago.

Florida will want nothing more than to end that streak under the lights.

Jamil King is a young draft pick working his way up the depth chart on the F.F.I. roster, who enjoys watching and writing about all of Florida’s football teams.

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Florida Gators

Gators to Orange Bowl leads Florida schools-bowl games

Matt Zemek

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Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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The bowl lineup is set. Six teams from the state of Florida will play in bowl games in the 2019-2020 bowl season. All six games will be played in 2019 None of the bowls will be in January of 2020.

The two big storylines to emerge from the bowl games involving Sunshine State schools are as follows:

First, Florida got a bad matchup in the “New Year’s Six.”

The Gators always knew they would get an NY6 ticket; the question was: their destination and opponent? Memphis, in the Cotton Bowl would have been a tougher game for Gator fans to attend, but it would have been a lot more interesting.

This game, in the Orange Bowl against Virginia is a lot closer to home, but it comes against a four-loss Virginia Cavaliers team which did not win its conference and lost its conference title game by 45 points (62-17 to Clemson).

This is the kind of bowl game which is more of a burden than an opportunity It’s all gravy for Virginia, which is making a rare appearance in a New Year’s Six game. This is the biggest bowl stage for UVA since the 1991 Sugar Bowl against Tennessee.

This is a huge deal for the Hoos, who will be playing with house money and a lot to prove after getting kicked in the teeth by Clemson on national television.

For Florida, however, the Orange Bowl is a game the Gators MUST win. If they don’t, it’s a heaping platter of humiliation served fresh, just before the new year arrives. The Gators would trudge into a miserable offseason if they lose to Virginia. It’s all pressure, low upside, for UF, in marked contrast to last year’s game against Michigan, which boosted spirits in the offseason and spring ball.

The second main story of the Florida-based bowl schools: Florida Atlantic got the best game.

The Owls were rewarded for their Conference USA Championship, even though coach Lane Kiffin left for Ole Miss, and was given a date with the 10-2 SMU Mustangs in the Boca Raton Bowl. The game will be on ABC on a Saturday afternoon. (The full schedule is listed below.) That is a great showcase for the FAU program, and the Owls won’t have to travel, either. What a great arrangement!

Most of the other Florida schools can’t be too happy about one or more aspects of their bowl schedule. Florida International is happy to go to any bowl, so Arkansas State in the Camellia is perfectly fine. The other Florida schools, though, have reason to complain.

UCF got dumped with Marshall in the Gasparilla Bowl, a pre-Christmas game played in Tampa on a Monday afternoon. UCF won’t get to test itself against an SEC team or any Power Five conference team this year. UCF wasn’t 6-6 or 7-5; it was 9-3. This is a letdown for Josh Heupel’s team.

Miami gets the dreaded Shreveport location, symbolic of the most out-of-the-way, off-the-radar bowl possible. Worse, Miami plays Louisiana Tech, which will have a big crowd for the Independence Bowl.

Florida State did get a relatively decent opponent, Arizona State, but the Seminoles and their fans will have to travel all the way to El Paso for the Sun Bowl. That’s a rough holiday commute for anyone who wants to make it

FLORIDA SCHOOLS’ 2019 BOWL SCHEDULE

Florida Atlantic: vs. SMU, Boca Raton Bowl – Saturday, Dec. 21 on ABC, 3:30 Eastern

Florida International: vs. Arkansas, Camellia Bowl – Saturday, Dec. 21 on ESPN, 5:30 Eastern

UCF: vs. Marshall, Gasparilla Bowl – Monday, Dec. 23 on ESPN, 2:30 Eastern

Miami: vs. Louisiana Tech, Independence Bowl – Thursday, Dec. 26 on ESPN, 4 Eastern

Florida: vs. Virginia, Orange Bowl – Monday, Dec. 30 on ESPN, 8 Eastern

Florida State: vs. Arizona State, Sun Bowl – Tuesday, Dec. 31 on CBS, 2:15 Eastern

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Florida Gators

Gators strong finish Saturday keeps them atop our rankings

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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The college football regular season came to an end last week. For some, it was great, and for others, it was horrible. The Gators and UCF rolled to victories over their rivals. FIU continued their winning ways, while their rival FAU clinched the C-USA East and will be hosting the title game.

The Noles got beat down, while their other rival Miami fell flat on their face for the second week in a row. In the NFL, the Bucs were on their way too embarrassing the Jaguars before a QB change softened the blow, while the Dolphins pulled one of the stunners of the NFL season.

With all of these games to unpack, this is how the top 5 looks heading in conference championship week and week 14 of the NFL:

Florida Gators- The Gators have been the most consistent team in the state, both college, and pro. Their only two losses are against the two teams playing for the SEC Championship Game (LSU and Georgia), and both of those teams can still make the playoff.

Florida had their way with Florida State all night Saturday. Taking advantage of missed tackles and a shaky secondary, Kyle Trask threw three touchdown passes. Florida State couldn’t do anything on offense aside from the opening drive, and a long Cam Akers second-half run. The 10-2 Gators will now wait to see where they are sent for a bowl game. They have an outside shot at a “New Year’s Six” game, but even if they fail to gain entry, an 11-win season is still a great one.

FAU Owls- It was simple for FAU: win, and you’re in. They answered the call by beating Southern Miss in the season finale, and now they are C-USA East champions. QB Chris Robinson connected with tight end Harrison Bryant for all three of his touchdowns passes in the 34-17 win. The Owl defense forced five turnovers on the way to the victory.

Next, the Owls will host West champ, UAB Saturday afternoon to decide who will win the Conference outright.

UCF Knights- The Knights ended their regular season by rolling over USF and ending the Charlie Strong era. Dillon Gabriel had 270 yards passing and two touchdowns, and WR Gabe Davis went over 100 yards again, catching both touchdowns. The Knights won’t be heading to the AAC title game or a New Years’ Six bowl game. A 10th win in the bowl, though, is still a good season for the Knights.

A consolation prize for them would be to draw either FSU or Miami in a bowl game for a shot at an in-state power five schools.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers- For the second week in a row, the Bucs came away victorious and both road wins were highlighted by excellent defense. They were able to knock Nick Foles out of the game at halftime for poor performance. Foles had just 93 yards passing, an interception and two fumbles.

On offense, the Bucs didn’t have to do much, as Jameis Winston had no touchdowns and no interceptions. Peyton Barber was the running back who was hot, scoring twice one from 15 yards and the other a goal-line touch. The Bucs will look to make it three wins in a row and a home win this week against the Colts.

Miami Dolphins- The Dolphins, yes, the Dolphins, are in our rankings, as they pulled off one of the upsets of the season, defeating the Eagles 37-31.

Devante Parker had an explosive 159 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Ryan Fitzpatrick had 365 yards and three touchdowns.

The craziest play, however, came on fourth and goal when punter Matt Haack rolled left and shuffle passed the ball past three eagle defenders to kicker Jason Sanders.

The win puts the Dolphins at three wins, and they have three more winnable games coming up. Once looking like the sure-fire choice for the first pick, the Dolphins are sliding down the draft board towards the 3-6 range.

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