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Florida Gators

Gators still alive for SEC Title game and more

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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The Gators get set to play an early game Saturday at Columbia against the Missouri Tigers and while on the surface it’s seemingly an SEC team just playing out the string, in reality Florida still has a lot to play for Saturday. And, this could include potentially ending up in the SEC Championship Game.

First, the Gators have to take care of business and beat the Tigers, and then, they will tune in, with everyone else, and see what the Georgia Bulldogs, who currently lead the east by a game, will do in Auburn against the Tigers.

It’s a long-standing rivalry and Auburn is at home and should Auburn win, then it sets up the possibility that Florida could still be playing in Atlanta on December 7th.

That’s because, even though Georgia has the head to head win over Florida and they will control their own destiny in their game next week at home with Texas A&M, Florida will be sitting back at 6 – 2. And, that means a Bulldog loss allows the Gators will claim the East.

Now, the likelihood is: Georgia will win one or both of their remaining games and claim the spot in Atlanta and very possibly remain in the College Football Playoff mix. The Dawgs were controversially moved into the fourth spot earlier this week.

And, that’s because even though they have a bad loss to South Carolina at home, the Bulldogs do have the wins over Notre Dame and Florida on their schedule. And, with an Auburn win, it clinches the division and would solidify their standing even more.

Now, the Gators also want to keep winning for their hopes of a “New Year’s Six” bowl game alive, this as Florida is currently 11th in the rankings and does own wins over Miami and Auburn earlier this season.

This scenario to try to win the East in the final couple of weeks is not unlike what happened for the Gators in 2016. There in Jim McElwain second season Florida had to play the Hurricane Matthew makeup game with LSU in Baton Rouge. This was while leading Tennessee by a full game but having lost to the Vols earlier that year.

Had Florida lost to the Tigers in the makeup game, Tennessee would have only needed to win their final two games and they would have had the tiebreaker over the Gators to go to Atlanta.

Instead, the Gators took care of business stopping LSU with a goal-line stand in the final seconds and claiming the east division title outright with 6-2 record.

Georgia stands to be the outright east champ with two more wins. They are co-champs with the tiebreaker with one more win. And, they will be favored in both games.

So, there’s only a small chance that George is not going to win one or both of their remaining two games. However, Florida can put the pressure on with an early win Saturday and then a Georgia loss on the Plains later in the day.

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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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