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The Ohio State Buckeyes and Florida Gators are only a few years removed from playing each other in the BCS National Championship Game. The stakes aren’t quite as high when the teams reunite for the first time since that point, but we are still ready to take aim at our 2012 Gator Bowl free picks.
Click Here For The Rest Of Our 2011-12 Bowl Game Previews
Gator Bowl Matchup: Florida Gators vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
Gator Bowl Date/Time: Monday, January 2nd, 1:00 ET
Gator Bowl Location: Ever Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL
Gator Bowl Odds: Florida -2
Gator Bowl Total: 44
Gator Bowl TV Coverage: ESPN2, ESPN3.com
To say that there is some bad blood in this series is a bit of an understatement. The Gators are going to surely be upset that OSU’s coach as soon as this game is over with will be Urban Meyer, the man that led them to two national titles. Meyer left Florida after last season rather unceremoniously, citing wanting to spend more time with his family and health concerns. He supposedly remained committed to the university, only to take a job with ESPN as an analyst for about three months and then leave for Ohio State less than a year after resigning from his post in Gainesville. Ohio State is going to look for a measure of revenge for its loss in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game, especially knowing that it is going to be missing out on the bowl season next year due to probation recently handed down by the NCAA.
Both of these teams finished at 6-6 this year, but they were certainly two very different 6-6 squads. Florida bulked up its schedule this year by beating a number of teams that really weren’t worth a darn thing at the outset of the year. The Gators went on to finish out the season with just a 3-5 mark in conference play, and they went 2-6 SU and 0-8 ATS in their final eight games. Their only win over a bowl eligible team this year came against the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Buckeyes at least played a schedule against some teams of note, including a surprisingly notable out of conference win against the Toledo Rockets and wins against the Wisconsin Badgers and Illinois Fighting Illini. They also came close against the Michigan State Spartans, Nebraska Cornhuskers, and Michigan Wolverines.
There is some massive raw talent that is going to be on the field in this one. RBs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey really never totally got going for the Gators this year, but both are going to have one final chance to showcase their skills for the NFL in this one. They did have their best years rushing in terms of total yardage, but they both averaged well over nine yards per time that they touched the football in years past, and neither even reached seven yards per touch this year. On the other side of the field, there is a tremendous amount of speed on the Ohio State defense, but the real question is going to be how WR DeVier Posey can have an impact on a passing game that was completely anemic all season long. This is going to be just the third game that Posey has played this year after serving lengthy NCAA suspensions.
Normally speaking, we would back the SEC team over the Big Ten team in a heartbeat, as the teams from the south generally dominate the ones from the north. That being said, this time around we prefer OSU. QB Braxton Miller is going to be the best signal caller on the field, which is really saying something considering the fact that the Gators are going to use as many as four, and maybe even five different guys to take snaps in this game. Missing OC Charlie Weis will also hurt the Gators. In the end, we think that Florida was nowhere near good enough by SEC standards to be in the bowl season this year, while the Buckeyes were improving from start to finish on the campaign in spite of their three game skid to wrap up the campaign. We think that the last game with Luke Fickell in charge of Ohio State is going to turn out to be a good one, as the boys from Columbus put a happy end to an otherwise dismal season.
Free Gator Bowl Pick: Ohio State +2
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