On Sunday, Trey Burton will become a member of a select group of former Gators who’ve played on the largest stage in football — the Super Bowl.
In recent history, the Gators have been well-represented. Former Gators Keanu Neal and Brian Poole started for the Atlanta Falcons in last year’s Super Bowl. The year prior, former UF stars Andre Caldwell, Max Garcia, and Lerentee McCray took the field for the Broncos in their 24-10 win over Carolina. The Eagles’ Burton is continuing the tradition, as it’s the 16th consecutive year Florida has had a former player in the Super Bowl.
Many Gators’ fans remember Burton as the “Wildcat” quarterback who once scored six touchdowns in a win against Kentucky — an impressive Florida record that may never be broken. During his days in Gainesville, Burton played a lot of roles, including running back, wide receiver, fullback and tight end. Although his priorities on the field shifted, his determination never wavered. His dedication and willingness to change positions earned Burton a first-round selection in the NFL Draft.
In four years with the Eagles, he has continued to show his versatility. Last April, the Eagles signed the restricted free agent to a one-year contract for $2.81 million. Turned out to be a great decision for both.
Playing tight end, Burton caught a career-high 37 passes in 2016. The 26-year-old continued to prove his value when replacing injured starter Zach Ertz in Week 14 against the Rams. Burton finished the game with five passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns. His five receiving touchdowns this season were a career best and most by an undrafted Eagle since 2002.
Burton notched his first career postseason reception in the Eagles’ dominant win over the Vikings in the NFC Championship.
“Those thoughts of how long it takes to get here or how hard it is or the road, all that is for after the Super Bowl,” he told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “Until you get to the NFL, (the Super Bowl) is always a dream. Getting to the NFL really gives you the opportunity to fulfill that dream. You got to get to the league first.”
Gators “New Year’s Six” bowl chances hurt by end schedule
The Gators are making a case to be an important bowl game, but their end of the year schedule isn’t going to help them. Off the Tuesday night ranking reveal by the College Football Playoff selection committee, Florida is at #11.
And, the worse news is, off not playing this week, beating FSU is only going to help you a little.
Sure, they lost to No.1 LSU and No. 4 Georgia, but the Gators don’t/won’t have an important win down the stretch. They took out their one-touchdown loss to Georgia on the Commodores, beating Vanderbilt 56-0. Then they went right after Mizzou and smashed a tough Tigers team 23-6, showcasing a formidable SEC defense.
So, now the only test left for the Florida Gators is their instate rivals, the Seminoles at Ben Hill Griffen Stadium.
So, while Minnesota finishes with teams like Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin and maybe Ohio State in the Big Ten Title game strengthening their “New Year’s Six” bowl argument, Florida’s end of season competition (post Georgia) is hurting them.
Back to the FSU matchup, we’ll have to wait a little bit to see how the betting sites handicap this one, but both teams will come into this latest edition of their rivalry well-rested. The Noles just faced the Alabama State Hornets, and and rolled to an easy 40-12 victory that ensured FSU a bowl game.
James Blackman put up 246 passing yards and three touchdowns against one interception. Jordan Travis even stepped in and put up 71 yards on just 3 completions on 7 attempts. Touches on the ground were also shared well. Khalen Lanorn got the bulk of the carries, and he netted himself two touchdowns and 55 rushing yards. But, Travis had a couple of more explosive runs too, as the QB put up 69 yards on the ground in just 4 rushes.
Blackman also got into the running game with 53 yards on 4 attempts … Deonte Sheffield rounded it out with another 31 yards gained. All in all, just over 200 yards were gained on the ground, albeit against an FCS team at home.
Missouri was an entirely different type of opponent for Florida. They are a legitimate SEC team, but still, the Gators put up 330 yards through the air on them with Kyle Trask dropping two in for touchdowns. Bigger, no major mistakes were made, as Trask’s best trait is that he hasn’t been the reason that Florida loses.
Now, Florida still struggled with only 79 yards gained on the ground … and then Trask getting brought down behind the line for -17 and Trevor Grimes getting one negative carry for -4 leaves a rushing stat of just 58 yards.
Now to an advance of next week, the Gators are putting up 33.30 points per game against SEC defenses, while the Seminoles are averaging 28.30 against a very weak ACC conference. Unfortunately for the Noles, they are allowing 29 points per game against those same foes, where Florida is allowing just 15 points per game, making them a top ten defense in Division I Football – No. 9.
Even with Clemson, Florida State has not met a defense like this yet this season. So there is a good chance that they will be a little shell-shocked in the Swamp with the big UF defensive front starts crashing down.
The matchup stats get worse when we look at FSU’s road stats versus Florida’s home stats. The Noles have only managed to put up 24 points per game on the road this season against lesser competition. They average 136.2 rushing yards and a respectable 252.5 passing yards.
But, they’ll be going up against the No. 2 ranked home defense in college football. The Gators have allowed just 6.67 points per game in Gainesville this season. Just 83.5 yards per game on the ground and 162.5 through the air. Where they are particularly tough is in the red zone, they just don’t allow you to score.
To make matters worse for the Noles, the Gators also play much better on offense at home. They are averaging 35.67 points per game on 303.33 passing yards and 137 on the ground.
The Seminoles are simply outclassed in the matchup. They are allowing 32.25 points per game on the road, which falls right into the Gators’ offensive stats and only scoring 24 against much weaker teams. This has all the makings of a double-digit trouncing.
Because this is a rivalry game, FSU may hang in early and score better than Floridas 6 point defensive average, with perhaps 14 points. But the Gators are going to put up over 30, easily.
So, you don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving weekend. Start taking the Gators to win easily, now.
Gators and college teams dominate our weekly power rankings
After a week where we finally saw a lot of wins around the state, things came back down to earth this week. All three NFL Teams were defeated. The Gators and the Noles were victorious, while the Bulls fell in a heartbreaker. Many college programs in the state were on BYE weeks.
After a disappointing week, here is how the teams stack up against each other:
Florida Gators- The Gators continue to be the most consistent team in the state even though, at times, it isn’t pretty. The Gators had a slow first half in Missouri going into the break with a 6-3 lead. Both teams couldn’t get it going on offense. In the second half, however, Kyle Trask was able to deliver two touchdowns, and after that, the defense (above) took care of the rest.
They held Kelly Bryant to 204 passing yards for the whole game and allowed less than 60 yards rushing. With the Georgia win, the Gators officially can not make the SEC title game, but they still have a shot at a “New Years’ Six” game for the second year in a row. Next, the Gators will host rival Florida State, who are playing much better football over the last two games.
Florida Atlantic Owls- The Owls had a bye week to prepare for the final two games of the season. FAU is still tied for the C-USA East lead. They still need help with a Marshall loss, though, to take the division outright. FAU will face UT-San Antonio next, and if they can win that game sets up a huge game against Southern Miss to wrap things up. Lane Kiffin has done an excellent job this year, leading the Owls to having one of their best seasons.
Miami Hurricanes- The Canes had a bye week, and it may have come at the worst time. Miami was riding a three-game win streak and playing their best football of the season by a wide margin. Next, they will face local “rival” FIU in a game being played at Marlins Park.
Believe it or not, the Canes mathematically can still make it to the Orange Bowl with the ACC tie in. They need to win out with some help to achieve this. Regardless of the help, if this team can end the season on a five-game winning streak, that is a huge win on its own heading into bowl season and the offseason.
Florida State- The Noles have now won back to back games with Odell Haggins as head coach. Haggins is doing his best auditioning to be the full-time head coach. They did beat Alabama State though so we can pump the breaks a little bit. If he can lead this team into the Swamp and get a win, then that changes everything.
The Noles haven’t faced a strong defense since losing to Miami and Clemson. This game will be the true test of just how much Haggins has injected into this team.
UCF Knights- The Knights had a bye week following the upset loss they took in Tulsa. UCF is still sitting at 7-3, though, and with two wins gives them nine, which is nothing to be ashamed of. A bowl win would once again give them double-digit wins, which is a great season. They may not be undefeated or going to a New Years’ Six bowl game, but that doesn’t mean this was a lost season by any means.
With a freshman QB, growing pains are expected. Next, they will travel to face Tulane, a team with a strong running game. This could be one of the highest-scoring affairs of the day and could be one of the more entertaining games on the slate.
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