For the Gators, it will be a second consecutive trip to a so-called New Year’s Six bowl, and a return to the Orange Bowl for the first time since Steve Spurrier’s last game as Florida’s head coach.
The Rex Grossman-led Gators — who were without Grossman for the early goings of the 2002 Orange Bowl due to a curfew violation — strafed Maryland, 56-23, in that matchup.
Florida has not played Virginia since 1959, when a Gators team that would go 5-4-1 drilled what would be an 0-10 Cavaliers team by a 55-0 count. That is the only meeting between the two programs in football.
Florida earned its Orange Bowl berth by virtue of being the SEC’s second-ranked team outside the College Football Playoff, its 10-2 record good for the No. 9 spot in the final CFP rankings released on Sunday. No. 1 LSU is the SEC’s only CFP entrant this fall, while No. 6 Georgia fell just one spot after being routed by the Tigers in Atlanta, and earned a Sugar Bowl berth as the SEC’s top-ranked non-Playoff team.
Virginia is making the trip to South Florida as the ACC’s top team outside the Playoff, and is the lowest-ranked team that will appear in a New Year’s Six game this year, with the Cavaliers dropping just one spot to No. 24 despite being obliterated by Clemson, 62-17, in the ACC Championship Game.
The Gators will be making their fourth Orange Bowl appearance. They are 3-0 in the previous three visits, winning all of those games by double digits. Florida also won the 2009 BCS National Championship Game, hosted by the Orange Bowl — and that, too, was a double-digit win, as the Gators downed Oklahoma, 24-14.
Virginia’s Orange Bowl trip is its first ever. This is also the Cavaliers’ first berth in a major bowl since its appearance in the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl.
The 2019 Orange Bowl will kick around 8 p.m. on Monday, December 30, and will be televised by ESPN.
Orange Bowl tickets will be available through Florida. Tickets will be available to season ticket-holders through Tuesday morning, then be made available to the general public.