This years Gator Bowl will find a couple of 6-6 going at it, as Ohio State will take on Florida. The game is scheduled for a start time of 1:00 pm and will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Currently the odds have Florida favored by 2 points while the total is sitting at 44 points.Two programs that met for the BCS national championship just five years ago stumble into the Gator Bowl looking to salvage a winning season.
Free Analysis: The intrigue of course surrounds the recent hire by Ohio State of former Florida head coach Urban Meyer, who was 104-23 overall in his coaching career, and his .814 winning percentage is the 10th- best in the history of major college football, plus Meyer led Florida to a pair of national titles during his six years in Gainesville. He will not attend the game though and next year he will not be afforded a bowl invite as NCAA penalties - including a bowl ban for next season and a reduction in scholarships, were announced Dec. 20. Ohio State came into the 2011 campaign trying to put the negative feelings of an off-season steeped in controversy behind it, but the Buckeyes simply never found their rhythm, especially on offense. As a result the Buckeye offense was able to generate just 319.5 ypg of total offense (107th) and a mere 124.1 ypg through the air (117th). The Buckeyes didn't get much out of the QB position to start, as Joe Bauserman earned the starting nod at the outset, only to lose the job midway through to freshman Braxton Miller. Miller wasn't all that productive with his arm (90.6 ypg), but he did toss 11 TDs against only four INTs. Defensively the Buckeyes were on top of their game for much of the regular season, and in the end opponents averaged just 20.8 points and 328.6 yards of total offense per outing. They allow just 3.9 yards per rush attempt, and they have come up with 17 turnovers, 12 of which have been INTs. Their offense was so bad at time that they won games based solely on their defense. The Gators also had problems at the QB spot and while John Brantley's umbers this year (132-of-244, 1,912 yards, 10 TDs, six INTs) don't elicit a whole lot of excitement, the fifth- year senior is clearly UF's best option. The Gators' top two pass catchers had just 28 receptions apiece, as Rainey and Jordan Reed combined for 657 receiving yards and four scores. The strength of this Gator attack is the RB tandem of Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. The two combined for 1,329 yards and eight TDs this season, and both averaged better than five yards per carry. Overall the Gators rank 102nd out of 120 FBS schools in total offense. While generating turnovers (12) have been such a problem, the Florida defense was on the field for nearly 32 minutes per game during the regular season, but despite that fact, the Gators yield just 299.6 total ypg (9th). They have been particularly tough against the pass, permitting just 167.2 ypg (16th) with an average of roughly one passing score allowed per outing. Conversely, they have surrendered 16 rushing scores, and an average of 20.6 ppg as a result. Florida is appearing in its 21st straight bowl game, and its 39th overall. The Gators are 19-19 in the postseason, and this is their ninth trip to the Gator Bowl, where they are 6-2 all-time. The Gators and Buckeyes have faced each other only one other time, that coming in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game. Florida whipped Ohio State that night, 41-14, to win the first of Meyer's two national titles.
Free Pick: Like the Outback Bowl I will have to take the Under in this one as well. Both of these teams have been plagued by inconsistency at the QB slot, with Barxton Miller averaging just 90.6 ypg through the air, but his true worth however, came in the run game, as he led the team with 695 yards. RB Dan Herron (123 carries, 596 yards, three TDs) missed the first several games due to suspension, but came on late to give the Buckeyes some balance out of the backfield. Overall Ohio State finished 256th in rushing. The Buckeyes defense comes in ranked 55th vs the run and should have problems stopping the RB Tandem of Rainey and Demps here. Florida has also had QB issues this here and will not look to through that much vs a Buckeye defense that is 15th in the nation vs the pass. This is an important game for both as neither team wants to finish below .500 so i look for them both to play it close to the vest with lots of running, field position and defense. I expect a game in the mid to lower 30's here.