Florida Football: Power Ranking the Gators' Bowl Options
In typical 2012 fashion, the Florida Gators started hot, stumbled and stormed to a fourth-quarter finish in taking down in-state rival Florida State in Tallahassee Saturday.
With the 37-26 victory, the Gators still had a shot to sneak into the national title game, but USC's meltdown against No. 1 Notre Dame all but sealed the Gators' fate.
Now that Notre Dame is set to square off against the winner of the SEC Championship between Alabama and Georgia, the Gators should move up to No. 3 and be in position for a prime bowl game.
Let's take a look at the Gators' bowl options going forward.
5. Outback Bowl
A selection for the Outback Bowl would be a worst-case scenario for Florida.
Currently at No. 4, the Gators should move up a spot after the SEC Championship, meaning they will be a lock for a BCS bowl game.
Two years ago, in Urban Meyer's final season at the helm, Florida took on Penn State in the Outback Bowl, defeating Penn State 37-24.
However, that year's squad went 8-5 in the regular season, including a poor 4-4 SEC record.
It would be a nightmarish scenario to see the Gators play in this game, and it appears likely that South Carolina will represent the SEC in the Outback Bowl.
4. BCS National Championship
If not for an uncharacteristic turnover-prone day against Georgia, the Gators would be playing Alabama for a spot in the national championship.
Unfortunately for the Gators, that one loss will probably cost them a chance at the ultimate prize.
Despite a sensational 11-1 record, including a 7-1 SEC showing, Florida is going to end up on the short end of the stick in its bid for a shot at Notre Dame.
However, there's still a slim chance (barring some sort of miracle) that UF finds its way in the big dance.
With wins over LSU, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Florida State, the Gators have an impressive resume that arguably can't be topped by any other team in the country.
Sadly, that one loss to No. 3 Georgia will be too much to overcome.
3. Capital One Bowl
Although ESPN's Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards project Texas A&M to play in the Capital One Bowl, Florida could be in consideration too.
The Aggies finished the season strong with wins over then-No. 1 Alabama and a very solid Mississippi State squad.
Their only two losses came against Florida and LSU, leaving the Aggies with a solid resume for a BCS bowl bid.
The Gators' lackluster wins in their non-conference games, especially against Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State, certainly don't help their cause, but it's hard to argue with an 11-1 overall record.
Expect the Aggies to end up with a spot in the Capital One Bowl, leaving the Gators for bigger and better things.
2. Chick-Fil-A Bowl
If the Gators somehow lose out on a BCS bowl bid, they should be set for a trip to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
LSU is currently projected to represent the SEC in Atlanta, but it's not a lock.
The Tigers rank just three spots behind the Gators in the BCS standings and could garner consideration for a bid to the Sugar Bowl.
Les Miles' team has played in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl twice since 2005, and after a down year for their standards, expect the Tigers to be back in Atlanta on New Year's Eve, leaving the Gators in...
1. Allstate Sugar Bowl
The Gators are a virtual lock for a berth in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Typically, the SEC champion represents the conference in the bowl, but with the winner of Alabama/Georgia likely heading to the BCS National Championship, Florida should take the spot.
Will Muschamp's team certainly deserves consideration for the national title game, but settling for the Sugar Bowl isn't such a bad consolation prize.
UF has overcome offensive inconsistency, poor play in non-conference games and injuries to end up at the No. 4 spot in the BCS rankings.
With a rock solid resume and fresh off a win against then-No. 10 FSU, Florida is perhaps the hottest name in college football.
It may come up short in their quest for a national title, but earning a spot in the Sugar Bowl is nothing to be ashamed of in what's been a fantastic second year for Muschamp.