With three weeks remaining in the regular season, it’s time to take a closer look at bowl projections.
Plenty can change, but a search across the web shows the Florida Gators slated for either the Allstate Sugar Bowl or the Capital One Bowl. It all hinges on Florida’s regular season finale against Florida State.
With non-conference cream puffs Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State, at the very least Florida will finish 10-2. A win against Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium on Nov. 24 would get the Gators to 11 wins, possibly putting them in line for a BCS bowl berth.
The Gators were No. 7 in the BCS Standings that were released a week ago. The standings will be updated at 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday. They were No. 7 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and No. 8 in the AP Top 25 that were released at noon on Sunday.
Florida locked up co-champs of the SEC Eastern Division with a 7-1 record after Saturday’s 14-7 victory against Missouri at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. It reportedly will receive a “co-champs” trophy, but Georgia also will finish 7-1 with a win against Auburn and represent the East in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
That fact alone has Florida second-year coach Will Muschamp chalking up this season as unsuccessful, even considering the turnaround after going 7-6 a year ago.
“At the end of the day, and when I took this job, understanding fully the expectation is to go to Atlanta and win a championship, I’ve made my comment on how I feel about your season if that is not accomplished,” Muschamp said. “We’ve made strides, but we’re not where we want to be.”
Muschamp mentioned after Saturday’s won how this team still has plenty “on the table” worth playing for, which is a spot in a BCS Bowl, although he said it was more about playing for each other and for the University of Florida.
GatorCountry.com spoke with a Capital One Bowl representative at Saturday’s game who said there was “a very good chance” Florida will be invited to play in the bowl, which is on New Year’s Day in Orlando.
The Capital One Bowl may not get the chance if Florida knocks off Florida State, but several projections have the Gators playing in Orlando.
Jim Tomlin of The Tampa Bay Times projects Florida to play Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl.
That’s the exact same matchup Phil Steele projected heading into Saturday’s game.
ESPN also has the Gators in the Capital One Bowl, but against Michigan. ESPN’s Edward Aschoff, a UF graduate, had Florida in the Capital One Bowl in his blog about SEC bowl projections last week.
CBS Sports has the Gators hooking up with the Oklahoma Sooners in the Sugar Bowl, which is played Jan. 2 in New Orleans. The projections were updated on Sunday.
The Sugar is a BCS bowl that takes an at-large team and the second-best team in the SEC if the winner of the SEC Championship ends up in the national title game, which would be the scenario if defending national champion Alabama wins out. It would be an interesting matchup from a storyline standpoint with former UF defensive coordinator Bob Stoops booming the Sooners.
The web site BCSKnowHow.com also projects the Gators to play in the Sugar Bowl, but against Notre Dame. That projection was made before Saturday’s slate played out.
CollegeSportsMadness.com is another projecting Florida to play in the Sugar Bowl. The site, which updated the projections on Sunday, believes the Gators will end up playing Kansas State.
SBNation.com has Georgia playing Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, with Florida and Michigan in the Capital One Bowl.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl, which is played in Atlanta on Dec. 31, also had a representative at Saturday’s game, likely scouting Missouri. Interestingly enough, there was a time when Florida was projected to play in the game.
That said, regardless of if Florida ends up in the Sugar or the Capital One, the Gators certainly have exceeded expectations in 2012.
It could have been way worse. No bowl at all, or even a much more boring bowl.