The 2011 Gator Bowl features a matchup between two teams that faced off in the 2007 National Championship game, but now there is an even more interesting storyline twist with former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer retiring at the end of the 2010 season, taking a year off, and recently accepting the head coaching job at Ohio State.
There are some out there calling this the "Urban Legends Bowl" but in reality it's just a game between two teams who were way worse this season than their fans are used to, two teams that vastly underachieved this season.
Florida is led by Will Muschamp, the former defensive coordinator at Texas under coach Mack Brown. His Gators went 6-6 in the regular season and it's actually quite eerie how similar these two teams were when you break down the numbers.
|Avg Points Allowed||20.8||20.6|
The Gators have a ton of speed both offensively and defensively, and that can present problems for a very young but talented Ohio State team. Quarterback John Brantley has battled injuries this season, and has not performed as well as many expected him to.
His lack of production is not a result of a lack of weapons offensively, though. The Gators boast two of the fastest players in all of college football in Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, their top two running backs.
The Gators also like to use the very talented freshman quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who can come in and run the "wildcat" offense and give the Gators a change of pace if they want it.
One thing the Gators do really well is run the ball, and their top three rushers all average at worst 5.1 yards per carry. That will be an interesting matchup to watch because the Ohio State front has been really challenged by speed rushing attacks, specifically the Michigan Wolverines a few weeks back.
Ohio State is going to need more big games out of the best freshman in the Big Ten conference, quarterback Braxton Miller. Miller has rushed for 100 yards or more in three of his last four games, and while his passing has been erratic, he has proven that he can make big plays in clutch situations.
The Buckeyes' last three losses are by six points or less, so it's not like they are having trouble competing this year, it's just been closing games that has been tough. In fact, the only loss this team has suffered this season by more than seven points was one to Miami, their first loss of the season.
This will essentially be a road game for Ohio State, who needs to get some production out of one of their best overall players, senior tailback Dan Herron who is playing in his final game as a Buckeye. Herron played in six games this year, and was looking great for the first three. It's no coincidence that Ohio State has lost the three games Herron has played poorly in. After he rushed for over 100 yards for his first three games, he hasn't been able to get more than 76 yards in a game including just 37 yards against Michigan.
He is going to be a huge factor for the Buckeyes in this game offensively, because the pattern indicates that as he goes, so goes the OSU offense.
This game will be on ESPN at 1:00 ET on Monday afternoon, a great way to start off the new year for Big Ten and college football fans.