The Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl might as well be called the Urban Meyer Bowl. Is it pure coincidence that just before the Gator Bowl matchup between Ohio State of the Big Ten and the Florida Gators of the SEC was announced that the Buckeyes unveiled former Florida head coach Urban Meyer as its new field general?
Coincidence or not, the interest in two 6-6 schools has been increased with the story of Meyer watching his new program take on his old one.
This will be Florida’s ninth showing in the Gator Bowl, which shares their name, but the first appearance dating back to 1992. These two schools have met just once previously, with Florida posting a 41-14 victory over the Buckeyes in the 2007 BCS National Title Game.
A look at our live Gator Bowl line shows Florida favored by 2 points, while the over/under has been posted at 44 points.
Ohio State enters this game off three straight losses to end up fourth in the Big Ten Leaders Division (3-5). Most recently, the Buckeyes dropped a 40-34 contest to rival Michigan then hired Meyer as their coach. The Buckeyes were 1-4 as a visitor, losing the last two.
Defensively, the Buckeyes are a commendable 26th in the country in points allowed (21 points per contest) and give up 329 yards per game (186 passing, 143 running) while recording 23 sacks and enticing 17 turnovers.
C.J. Barnett leads this unit with 69 stops, while Andrew Sweat has 68 tackles and Jonathan Hankins has 64. John Simons leads with seven sacks, Bradley Roby and Orhian Johnson each have three picks and Ryan Shazier and Travis Howard has two forced fumbles.
Offensively, Ohio State ranks just 75th in offense (25 ppg) while gaining 320 yards per contest (196 running, 124 throwing). The run attack is anchored by Braxton Miller, Dan Herron and Carlos Hyde with a combined 1,840 yards and 16 scores on 5.0 yards per tote.
Miller completes 50 % of his attempts for 997 yards and 11 touchdowns with four interceptions, while the offensive line has allowed 40 sacks. The main pass catchers on the team are Corey Brown and Jake Stoneburner with 14 catches each for a combined 398 yards and eight touchdowns, while Devin Smith has 12 grabs for 247 yards and four touchdowns.
Florida started 4-0 under new head coach Will Muschamp, but fell off during the meat of their schedule, going 2-6 down the stretch with five losses versus current top-25 schools to end up third in the SEC East (3-5). Florida was 1-4 as a visitor but 5-3 in their home state.
Florida rates 25th nationally in points against (21 points per contest) and surrenders 299 yards per contest (167 throwing, 132 rushing) while recording 22 sacks and enticing 12 turnovers three of which were taken back for scores (Jaye Howard, fumble; De’Ante Saunders and Jelani Jenkins, picks).
Jonathan Bostic anchors this unit with 86 tackles, while Ronald Powell has five sacks. Matt Elam leads with two picks and two forced fumbles while adding 72 stops.
Florida ranks 72nd in the nation in points (26 ppg) while gaining 334 yards per game (190 throwing, 144 on the ground). John Brantley has completed 59 % of his passes for 1,912 yards and 10 TDs with six picks. The offensive line has given up 23 sacks.
Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps anchor the ground attack with a combined 1,329 yards and eight touchdowns on 5.3 yards per attempt, while Rainey and Jordan Reed are the top receiving options with 28 catches each for a combined 657 yards and four touchdowns.