This has been an uneven season, I would say. The Gators defeated one rival and lost to others. Florida had some thrilling highs and some disappointing lows. The Gators repeated as SEC East champions, but like last season, ended the year being handily defeated by Florida State and Alabama. I know what you’re thinking, you’re concerned about what many in Gator Nation are worrying about today - that the Gators will end this season the same as the last one, by losing a bowl game in the state of Florida to a Big Ten team.
Florida takes on Iowa today in Tampa, at Raymond James Stadium, in the Outback Bowl, at 1:00 p.m. on ABC, or streaming through WatchESPN. The match-up was announced a month ago, and was not met with much fanfare from the Gator faithful.
We asked previously whether you cared about this game, and whether you would take bowl victory over recruiting prowess, and some of the respondents indicated that they felt that losing this bowl game would be a significantly negative event. And while I disagree that this one bowl game makes or breaks a season, or will have some lasting impact on anything, really, I can definitely see how winning would convey ebullience and leave players and fans with a positive feeling heading into the long offseason.
Florida’s injury list is lengthy today, and is led by three linebackers - Alex Anzalone, Jarrad Davis, and David Reese - that the Gators will surely miss against Iowa’s running back tandem of Leshun Daniels and Akrum Wadley. Wadley needs just 34 yards against the Gators to reach 1,000 on the season, a yard total which Daniels has already surpassed behind the Hawkeye’s award winning offensive line. I’m going to spell out the rest of the players on Florida’s injury report for effect: Alex Anzalone, Jarrad Davis, Marcus Maye, David Reese, and Jordan Sherit are out; Antonneous Clayton, Duke Dawson, Cameron Dillard, Mark Herndon, Martez Ivey, Fred Johnson, Tyler Jordan, Daniel McMillian, Justus Reed, Jeawon Taylor, C.J. Worton, and Nick Washington are questionable. Today will also be your first, and maybe not last, look at Randy Shannon coordinating the Gators’ defense.
I wish success and victory to all of those playing their last game as a Gator today. As a fan, of course it is more enjoyable to win and naturally I would like to see my team do that. But even if Florida is not triumphant today, I’ll still look fondly on Luke Del Rio’s bomb to Antonio Callaway against Kentucky, Austin Appleby’s 98-yarder to Tyrie Cleveland, that first drive against Alabama, Vosean Joseph knocking Danny Etling out before he could cross the goal line, Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson’s twin pick-sixes against Missouri, all of Jordan Scarlett’s hard running, and of course, that goal line stand at the end of the LSU game.
So many young players played this year and I am excited to see them in the future. Football season goes by far too quickly, and I intend to savor this last chance to see this team play.
Go Gators. Beat Iowa.