Florida Gators think underdog role is “ridiculous”

ORLANDO — Much of the good will that the Florida Gators built at the beginning of the 2015 season, winning their first six games including a win over then No. 3 Ole Miss, has been forgotten thanks to a 4-3 finish the rest of the way. A 10-win season is nothing to be scoffed at, but even the players feel a need to vindicate themselves and their season this Friday against the Michigan Wolverines.

“It’s a big game for the Florida Gators. We want to finish this 10-win season with a win,” senior lineman Trip Thurman said. “Our last two games are unacceptable with how we’ve played on offense and we want to show the nation, the country, and [future recruits], we’re going to win this game and show what the Florida Gators are about.”

Florida has been outscored 57-17 in their last two games (losses to Florida State and Alabama). The offense has sputtered to a halt in those contests with much of the blame falling on the shoulders of sophomore quarterback Treon Harris. Harris completes just 45% of his pass attempts (28-for-62) for 299 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Quarterbacks often receive more praise than they deserve and more blame than they deserve given the nature of the position they play, something his teammates don’t think is fair.

“It’s tough on a guy like that, putting the onus on him with the thing with Will,” Thurman said. “He’s stepped up big time and he’s learned from his mistakes the past two games, and he’s going to be ready for Michigan.”

Michigan’s defense is stingy, allowing just 281.3 yards per game (fourth best in the country), but Florida feels good about how their defense (295.4 yards per game) matches up with Michigan’s offense.

Like Florida, Michigan is coming into the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl off of a loss (42-13 to Ohio State) and are looking to end their season with a win. Senior transfer Jake Rudock has Michigan’s offense to an average of 387 yards per game (sixth best in the Big Ten). Florida is confident they will be the biggest test for the Wolverines and Rudock.

“I’d say that’s the matchup to watch, our defense vs. their offense,” sophomore cornerback Jalen Tabor said.

To beat Michigan the Gators will need to play their best defensive game of the year. The last two games saw Florida give up 741 yards of offense. That 370.5 average is more than 75 yards per game more than Florida averaged on the season and playing a complete game as a group is something the defense is stressing in practice.

“We gotta put a complete game together, you know, just the whole group really. This is our last time together and we done built up such a reputation and this is our last game together,” Tabor said. “We want to put a complete game together. Not just passes defended and interceptions but tackling, getting off blocks, running to the ball, effort, all the little things you want to put a complete game together.”

In a battle of two storied programs, two coaches who have had undeniable success in turning programs around in their first season and two teams looking to end their season on a positive note Florida likes their odds to beat Michigan and don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t.

“We need to prove stuff to other people because a lot of people don’t expect us to win this game, which is unfortunate because we’re SEC East champs and we play in the best conference in the nation,” said Thurman.

“For people not to pick us to win this game is ridiculous.”

Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC


  1. I hope the offense finds a way to move the ball. Part of it is wanting to win and the will to win. The other part is actually having the skill and discipline to pull it off in certain skill positions. Lack of consistency at QB has been our Achilles heel-no secret there. I hope the coaching staff and players can pull a giraffe out of a thimble and make the magic happen. Go Gators.