Florida and East Carolina will meet in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama on January 3, the SEC announced Sunday. The game will air at noon Eastern on ESPN or ESPN2.
ESPN's Brett McMurphy was first to report the pairing.
The 6-5 Gators were likely at or near the end of the SEC's list of teams to send bowling, and tumbled by preferred landing spots like Jacksonville (for the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl) or Charlotte (for the Belk Bowl) to land in Birmingham. The Pirates, 8-4 on the year, are coming off a stupefying loss to UCF in which an easy win turned into a bungled defeat by Hail Mary.
As a result of the bowl pairing, Florida and East Carolina will meet twice in 2015. Florida hosts the Pirates in its second game of the season on September 12.
The Gators missed a bowl in 2013, snapping a streak of 22 consecutive seasons spent bowling. With yet another January bowl, though, Florida will extend a string of bowl appearances in January that dates back to 2005. Just one of the 21 bowls Florida has made since 1993 has been in December, and just two bowl seasons since 1991, when NCAA penalties prohibiting postseason participation expired, featured the Gators playing in December.
That last December bowl? The 2004 Peach Bowl against Miami — a 27-10 rout that featured Charlie Strong as the Gators' interim coach.
D.J. Durkin and the Gators will obviously be hoping for something better this year.
Or, well, next year.