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 to Orange Bowl leads Florida schools-bowl games
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 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
Gators strong finish Saturday keeps them atop our rankings
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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