Following Saturday’s win over Texas A&M, the bowl prospects for Florida football are starting to look a lot more appealing. Rather than be shipped off to Birmingham, the Florida Gators are in the running for a respectable game.
And unlike the last two seasons where the bowl game meant zero for the future momentum of the program, the Gators have a lot to play for to close out the season and enter 2023 in a good place.
Florida Football: Bowling season
Last year the Gators played UCF in the Gasparilla Bowl. Dan Mullen had been fired and Florida football looked like a team that wanted to be anywhere else than at Raymond James Stadium. Florida lost that game and UCF fans celebrated the win as one of the top moments in program history.
This year the bowl game for Florida will have a bit more importance. While guys will probably opt out, including the possibility of Anthony Richardson if he opts to go pro after this season, the possibility of finishing 9-4 with three of the four losses coming to teams currently in the top 10 would be a great boost to the program.
Outside of the playoffs, the SEC has an immediate bowl tie-in with the Sugar Bowl and splits a tie-in with the Orange Bowl. According to CBS, LSU and Alabama are the front runners for those two games.
The Citrus Bowl then gets the next pick and Ole Miss has the inside track for that game.
After that, there are six bowl games the SEC will assign teams to:
- Las Vegas Bowl
- ReliaQuest Bowl (formerly Outback Bowl)
- Gator Bowl
- Music City Bowl
- Texas Bowl
- Liberty Bowl
As it stands now, Florida football is that group of six along with Kentucky, South Carolina, Missouri, Mississippi State, and Arkansas. Vanderbilt, Auburn, and Texas A&M all look like they will miss bowl season.
Right now CBS has Florida projected to the ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa, which makes sense given the geographic proximity. But there is a looming domino effect that could bump one or two of those schools down to the SEC’s tier two bowls, Gasparilla Bowl and Birmingham Bowl.
Part of the projections have both Georgia and Tennessee in the playoffs. If Tennessee gets left out, that will probably bump LSU or Alabama from a New Year’s Six game. Likewise, LSU or Alabama could lose again and bump themselves down to the Citrus Bowl.
Ole Miss then gets bumped into the tier-one bowls which knock out one of those six.
Florida has the inside track compared to Missouri and with a win this week over USC Jr. the Gators would have the inside track to the Gamecocks and can probably start booking hotel rooms in Tampa.
Florida fans would probably prefer the Music City Bowl or the Las Vegas Bowl simply for the destination, but the Bowl Formerly Name Outback would provide a higher-level Big Ten opponent (right now Illinois).
If the Gators lose to USC Jr. and the neighbors to the west and close out the season 6-6, a trip to Birmingham might be in the cards.
And nobody wants that.