Bowl Projections 2012: Ohio State vs. Florida Makes for Intriguing Gator Bowl
There's no shortage of reasons to believe that the Gator Bowl would chase after Ohio State and Florida to play in Jacksonville on January 2nd.
Both schools are among the biggest and brightest brands in college football, replete with tremendous history and tradition, not to mention legions of rabid fans around the country. Both would also draw millions of viewers to watch the game on ESPN2, as such a matchup could (and likely would) be promoted as a rematch of the 2007 BCS National Championship Game, which the Gators won, 41-14.
But with Monday's news that Urban Meyer had been introduced as the next head coach in Columbus, the most obvious selling point would be the strange web that Ohio State's latest hire has woven between the two universities.
Call it the Urban Bowl, or the Before-and-After Bowl. Maybe even the Transition Bowl.
Which team would win the Gator Bowl in this situation?
In both cases, we have 6-6 teams that clearly aren't as good as they were the last time they shared a football field. OSU took its lumps this season in the wake of a scandal that saw Jim Tressel resign, Terrelle Pryor bolt for the NFL and a host of other Buckeyes sit out games while serving NCAA suspensions for selling their own memorabilia and trading autographs for discounts at a local tattoo parlor.
All things considered, the Buckeyes acquitted themselves well. Their five Big Ten losses each came by a touchdown or less—a figure that will flip the other way once the 10 freshmen and sophomore starters mature into, well, sophomores and juniors.
This Ohio State squad will serve as an interesting snapshot of what a program looks like before Meyer comes in to rescue it.
On the other hand, Florida will play the role of the "after," a warning the Buckeyes would do well to heed. The Gators posted essentially the same sort of season as their Big Ten counterparts, except in the SEC, of course.
First-year coach Will Muschamp led his Gators to a 3-5 mark, with all of their league defeats coming against ranked opponents. They showed some moxie competing with the likes of Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina despite a bevy of injuries at key positions.
But, like everyone else in the country, they could hardly hang with LSU and Alabama.
Still, it's clear that there's much work left to be done to return Florida to its former glory following the graduation of Tim Tebow and the somewhat stunning departure of Meyer to an 11-month, ESPN-sponsored sabbatical. The Gators don't have another savior waiting in the wings, nor do they have an elite defense replete with future NFL stars like they used to.
Both teams will be much improved by this time next year, but for now, should the Gator Bowl end up with these two, look for Ohio State's marginally superior talent and more recent run of success to give it a slight end in its quest to finish the season with a winning record.
All while Urban Meyer is on hand to watch, of course.
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