Will there be smiles in the French Quarter on Thursday morning? - Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE
Florida meets a Big East champion in New Orleans just like it did three years ago. But is it fair for Gators on Bourbon Street to expect another blowout?
I'm writing this a few minutes before leaving with a bunch of fine folks dumb enough to let me ride with them to New Orleans, and I'm writing it in lieu of a lot of other stuff today, so you'll have to forgive me, but there's one thing I can't figure out heading into this Sugar Bowl: What should we expect?
I'll write my typical predictions piece for Wednesday a little later — and I'll finally review the FSU one tomorrow, promise — but I don't even really know what form it'll take. There's one scenario I keep coming back to for this game, but it's boring: Florida's just better than Louisville everywhere but quarterback and wide receiver, and Florida's significant advantages at defensive end and cornerback limit what the Cardinals can do anyway. Healthy and focused, Mike Gillislee runs like he did against Florida State, and healthy and happy, Florida's offensive line turns in another dominant performance.
That's the most logical scenario, I believe, because Florida's played that way all year when healthy; the most significant struggles Florida's had happened after a rash of offensive line injuries at Vanderbilt, and those injuries helped doom the Gators to a loss against Georgia and a month of struggles afterward. But most every Florida player not having to do much against Jacksonville State helped Will Muschamp's charges get into tip-top shape before whipping the Seminoles.
And now the Gators have had a month off, and have gotten very healthy and seem very focused, and even their worst position group has had time to work with Joker Phillips, Florida's first non-GA, non-Aubrey Hill receivers coach since 2010, a cause for optimism. Sure, Teddy Bridgewater has gotten healthy, too, but Florida's players seem to think he's better than any quarterback the Gators have seen, so they're taking him seriously.
That laundry list of things — superior talent, good coaching, stellar health, and excellent focus — is a recipe for bowl success, and Florida's relatively basic offense is no more or less difficult to prep for with a week or a month, so there's no dropoff expected there. And so I think I'm gonna be celebrating come midnight on Wednesday.
Do you agree? Disagree? See something I don't? I'll be in the comments on that long ride from the 352 to the 504, and I'd love to know what you think.