Florida Gators or Cincinnati Bearcats: Which Team Has More To Prove?
That's the question most, if not all citizens of the Gator and Bearcat Nation, are asking. After being defeated easily in the SEC Championship game, the Florida Gators are now relegated to playing in the Sugar Bowl against the now coach-less Big East champions, the Cincinnati Bearcats.
On his weekly television show after the SEC Championship game, Coach Urban Meyer expressed his excitement about playing in the Sugar Bowl for the first time, and it seemed he was doing his best to convince Gator fans that playing in New Orleans on New Year's Day was a great thing for the Florida Gators.
I'm not sure he sold himself.
Regardless, the Gators will play the Bearcats for pride, and the Gator Nation will get one more chance to see Tim Tebow, Brandon Spikes, and other seniors play for the last time.
Both teams have Top-15 offenses with Cincinnati ranked No. 6 and Florida No. 12. Defensively, Florida has the definite edge being ranked No. 4 whereas the Bearcats are way down on the list at No. 48.
Drilling down a bit further, Cincinnati is ranked No. 56 in rushing defense, and they give up 141 yards per game on the ground. Not good when you are facing Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators' spread offense and a very potent rushing attack. The Gators are ranked No. 10 through 13 games this season and average over 225 yards per game.
The strength of the Cincinnati Bearcats is their passing attack. Ranked No. 6 in passing offense, the Bearcats average over 320 yards per game. However, the best passing defense they faced all season was Miami of Ohio, who is ranked No. 26; that team won only one game this season.
The Gators, on the other hand, are ranked No. 3 in passing defense, and have arguably the best secondary in all of college football. Florida only gave up seven passing TDs all season, but grabbed 20 INTs.
At this point I would discuss the coaches, but since Brian Kelly is gone, it would be unfair to compare Urban Meyer to Jeff Quinn, the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach who will lead the Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl.
Statistics give guys like me something to stare at when attempting to predict the outcome of a game, but this one falls on the players. Both teams are playing for pride but for different reasons. The Gators wanted a trip to Pasadena but fell one game short. The Bearcats view the Sugar Bowl as a crowning achievement, but most of the Bearcat players feel that Brian Kelly turned his back on them for their big game.
So the question is—who wants it more? Do the Gators go out in style and not fall apart like Alabama did last season against Utah? Or do the Bearcats arrive with something to prove and forget all about Brian Kelly?
Tune in at 8:00 PM ET on New Year's Day to find out.
By the way, Florida wins by three touchdowns, 31-10.
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