Strike up the band! The Gators most likely will be bowl-bound in the 2011-12 season.
Counting the BCS title game, the Southeastern Conference has nine bowl tie-ins.
But this is Florida, and based on recent and not-so-recent history, when talking about the Gators and bowl games... well, the Music City Bowl (versus an Atlantic Coast Conference representative), the Liberty Bowl (vs. Conference USA) and the Compass Bowl (vs. the Big East) haven't exactly been in line to invite the often highly-ranked UF. And the Cotton Bowl (versus a Big 12 foe) has an SEC West tie, eliminating the Gators from discussion there.
So, where will it be?
Right now, eight days before Florida's first spring game under new coach Will Muschamp, all anyone can really do is make a few educated guesses about what might happen next fall and winter. It's a new day in Gainesville, and there are more variables than usual (new coach and staff, a quarterback in senior John Brantley who needs his confidence replenished and a transformation from the spread option to a Pro Style offense, to name three).
Sugar Bowl (4-1)
This scenario would happen if UF were to lose to the SEC title game to the West champion (the pick here is Louisiana State) and that team were to play for the BCS championship. A good draw to New Orleans, Florida defeated Cincinnati in the 2010 Sugar Bowl by a score of 51-24, in what was also Tim Tebow's final game as a Gator.
Florida will play in what bowl next season?
Outback Bowl (4-1)
The SEC East's equivalent of the Cotton Bowl, this has been UF's landing place for bowl games in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2011, so suggesting the Gators could end up in Tampa against a Big 10 representative is never a bad idea.
Capital One Bowl (8-1)
UF has only gone Bowling in Orlando once since 2000, when it lost 37-34 to Michigan State in the Florida Citrus Bowl. That was a loss to Michigan in Lloyd Carr's last game, immediately following Tebow's 2007 Heisman Trophy campaign. No doubt, the hometown of Mickey Mouse would welcome a chance to see the Gators, who count senior defensive lineman Jaye Howard, junior cornerback Jeremy Brown and freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel among those from the Orlando area.
BCS National Championship (20-1)
Florida is 2-0 all-time in this game, palindroming Ohio State 41-14 in 2007 and topping Oklahoma 24-14 in 2009. Assuming an SEC team will be in this game–not a bad assumption, considering the last five BCS national champions have come from college football's best conference–UF is as good a pick as anyone, as it is the only league team with two titles during this run.
Chick-fil-A Bowl (25-1)
This game pits the SEC against the ACC. Typically, the Gators are a good draw in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game and they haven't played here since losing 27-10 to Miami in December of 2004, when the game was called the Peach Bowl. That contest was somewhat memorable in that UF was coached for one game by then-defensive coordinator (now Louisville head coach) Charlie Strong.
Gator Bowl (100-1)
Without question, the bowl organizers in Jacksonville would love to see the Gators twice in one season. The NFL's Jaguars often place black tarps over seating areas where tickets aren't purchased. However, there is no such problem for the annual Florida-Georgia game. That said, Florida hasn't played in this game since beating North Carolina State 27-10 on Dec. 31, 1992 (hence the low odds).