SPOOKY EXPRESS BOWLING FOR DOLLARS SELECTION AND ANALYSIS THREAD
Florida vs. Ohio State
Monday, January 2, 1:00 pm
If you had told Gator Bowl organizers back in the summer that they would be matching Florida and Ohio State, they probably would have wet themselves. Alas, this matchup of previous superpowers doesn’t hold quite the cache as expected because both enter off hugely disappointing seasons and at 6-6 each for the Jan. 2 game in Jacksonville. it’s the first 6-6 matchup in this bowl’s history.
But in many ways this is one of the most unusual bowl pairings in years. Of course, you have the Urban Meyer factor, with the former Gators head coach ending his one-year sabbatical from Florida to take over the Buckeyes. He won’t be coaching in this game – Ohio State got NCAA approval to essentially have two different coaching staffs at one time. Meyer and his new group are recruiting, etc., while Luke Fickell will be in his final game as interim head coach but is expected to take over as Meyer’s defensive coordinator unless he gets another head coaching gig (Pitt interviewed him).
Will Muschamp’s Gators, meanwhile, are using an interim offensive coordinator in running backs coach Brian White. He had to slide into that gig because former OC Charlie Weis left Gainesville after one disappointing season to take the head coaching job at Kansas. And finally, you have the specter of this being Ohio State’s only postseason appearance for a year: The NCAA handed down its penalties Tuesday for the tattoo/memorabilia/Jim Tressel/Terrelle Pryor issues and, along with scholarship reductions and probation, OSU can’t play in a bowl next season (or the Big Ten title game). The last meeting between these two programs was in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game, won by Florida. That started the SEC’s current run of five straight national titles, which, of course, will become six with LSU and Alabama in this year’s championship.
OSU’s offense is actually worse than Florida – the Buckeyes ranked No. 107 in the nation in total yards, averaging 320 per game. But Ohio State did put up 372 yards in the season finale vs. Michigan, with Braxton Miller throwing for 235 yards, his highest total of the season by more than 100.
This could be offensively ugly. Ohio State has thrown 17 touchdown passes this season, and as bad as that is, it's still more than Florida, which has thrown just 12. That's the same number as last season, which is the fewest since the Gators threw just 10 TD passes in 1989. But at least OSU’s Miller seemed to improve near the end of his freshman season, while UF’s John Brantley proved to be a vastly overrated former five-star recruit and plays his last game. Brantley suffered a concussion in the season-finale vs. FSU but is in line to start. However, defensive tackle Dominque Easley is out with a torn ACL. He started every game this year. In six of their last seven games against FBS foes, the Gators were held to 13 or fewer points on offense. But the Gators were No. 10 in the nation in total defense, while Ohio State was 24th. The Big Ten usually lays an egg during bowls. During the past eight years the Big Ten has had one winning bowl season, going 4-3 in 2009. This game is another that just doesnt jump out at this point. Remember I am posting all this week or weeks in advance. I have this game as a pick em and although that doesnt surprise many it may make sense to take the points since if everything holds true then it could be an ugly close type of game. Lets wait and see and although you are tired of hearing that there are better plays that are out there with all the games ahead at this time.
OHIO STATE +3 (Opinion)
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