When the names “Ohio State” and “Florida” are included in the same bowl game, the stakes are usually quite large. This year, that is not so much the case as the 6-6 Buckeyes take on the 6-6 Gators in the Gator Bowl on Monday, January 2nd.
Ohio State Buckeyes (6-6) v. Florida Gators (6-6)
- Arbitrary Sponsor: TaxSlayer.com (previously Progressive Insurance)
- Time: Monday 1:00pm EST January 2nd, 2012.
- Location: Jacksonville, FL
- TV: ESPN2, ESPN3.com
- Announcers: Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham, Jeannine Edwards
- Jerseys: Ohio State visitor White on Gray, Florida home Blue on Blue
- Line: Florida -2
- Over/Under: 44
The last time the Buckeyes and the Gators played it was the 2007 BCS National Championship game. Urban Meyer’s Florida team put the smack down on the undefeated Buckeyes 41-14, where everybody who watched it saw the SEC speed was the difference, turning “SEC Speed” into a cliche. Heisman winner Troy Smith did not have to time throw or escape the Florida pass rush and Ohio State looked awfully slow on both sides of the ball.
Now we have Luke Fickell head coaching his final game for Ohio State as their fans salivate the approaching Urban Meyer era in Columbus. Fickell will be kept as an assistant, but Urban will not be on the sidelines for the bowl game.
After decades of three yards and a cloud dust, Buckeye fans are dreaming of a glimpse into the future on offense in Jacksonville. But it is seriously a coin flip if offensive coordinator Jim Bollman calls an aggressive game plan like they had against Michigan or if they attempt FOUR passes and run every other down like they did against Illinois, especially considering Urban is claiming he is focused on recruiting, not the Gator Bowl game plan. The fact that they are ineligible for a postseason next year leads me to believe they will go the aggressive, more entertaining route on offense.
Florida has made their living by taking their SEC speed and running a horribly slow and drawn out pro style offense under Charlie Weis this year. They did so well that they achieved a 102nd rank in yards (334.2) per game in the FBS (Ohio State is nipping at their heels at 107).
Weis was hired by Kansas as their new head coach so they will turn to running back coach Brian White to call plays. This may lead to a strong emphasis on the run and expectations are an unwatchable game that should actually be played on a worthless December bowl date. The thing that will save fans from this is Florida and Ohio State hate each other in athletics and the SEC versus B1G pride makes this an important postseason game for two rebuilding programs.
This is a good match-up because Florida and Ohio State are very similar teams in strengths and weaknesses. Despite the low stakes, it could still be one of those very entertaining bowl games that we like to see as college football fans. The athleticism is there even if the wild Xs and Os may not.
I expect a very close one with this year’s winner of the Gator Bowl making a big game changing play in one of the last possessions of the 4th quarter. Chances are it will be one of the defenses since both Fickell and Muschamp emphasize that side of the ball.
Prediction: Ohio State 33 | Florida 28