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No, Florida-Georgia isn’t going to move from Jacksonville

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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At the SEC Spring meetings in Destin on Tuesday Morning, University of Georgia coach Kirby Smart held a press conference, where he addressed several subjects. That included, when someone brought up scheduling and the Florida-Georgia series and addressing the future home of the game besides Jacksonville, where it has been played every year save for one, since the 1930s.

The third-year Georgia coach gave this answer and it raised some eyebrows:

First, there’s no indication from anywhere (besides Smart’s off the cuff suggestion) that the Florida-Georgia series will ever move from Jacksonville. And in the short-term, there still a deal with the city and TIAA Bank field for the playing of the next three games there through 2021.

Second, while scheduling has been a big topic amongst SEC officials, coaches and fans, including whether the SEC might eventually go to a ninth conference game like other “Power Five” leagues have done, that still doesn’t play into the Florida-Georgia scenario.

That’s because the Gators and Dawgs are in the same division, the East. So, whether they played the game in Gainesville, Athens or on the moon, it’s still counts, as an SEC East game.

Further, it’s become a tradition rich neutral site regular season game that may only be rivaled by Texas playing Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas every October, and arguably football’s most storied and patriotic rivalry the Army-Navy game, which rotates to a different neutral site every year.

The only two years in the last 60 that it wasn’t played in Jacksonville was 1994-95, while TIAA Bank Field was being renovated for the NFL and the Jaguars debut.

Each season the athletic departments at Florida and Georgia split up 50/50 the amount of tickets allotted for the game and it is sold true those fans as part of their school season ticket package. While an argument can be made that the school would make much more money on a home game in a given year, it balances out the same way when they would be traveling on the road with virtually no tickets the following year.

The game represents millions of tourism revenue in hotel, restaurant, entertainment monies, etc. for that weekend. And, is almost always shown nationally by CBS each year. So, it is a tremendous promotional and tourism opportunity for Jacksonville in hosting the game.

Also, make no mistake, it’s a bigger deal  now than what the Gator Bowl New Year’s Day game has become in that regard for attention, attendance and tourism. That’s because the Gator Bowl has been lagging in attendance and television viewership, as its been caught up as the third or fourth best bowl game in the early time slots on January 1st. This while competing with the Outback, Citrus and also a “New Year Six” rotating daytime bowl game on New Year’s Day.

Again, with all of those factors above in play, there’s not really a logical or financial reason why the game would move to campus sites. And you have to believe the city of Jacksonville will do everything to keep the game, as part of their community and in their stadium.

So, you can simply chalk this up to having to have something to talk about in May, and at least for a little while on Tuesday, it made for a juicy sound byte from Smart about the Florida rivalry

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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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