Tonight, the Florida Gators football season comes to a close in the 2020 Cotton Bowl, as the Gators take on Oklahoma (8 p.m., ESPN or WatchESPN) in their third straight New Year’s Six bowl.
And tonight, the Florida Gators men’s basketball season — sure to be watched closely for a variety of reasons — resumes after a nearly-three week break in the wake of Keyontae Johnson’s stunning collapse.
And I ... can’t say that I can muster up a lot of reason to care about either game.
In the former one, it’s because there’s nothing to expect. Heisman finalist Kyle Trask will be throwing passes for the Gators one last time, but he’ll be doing so without his top four targets — Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney, Trevon Grimes, and Jacob Copeland — and trying to compensate for a defense missing four starters in its own right. Against Oklahoma, known for its offense, it’s a recipe for a potentially exciting game full of offensive pyrotechnics ... or, well, a blowout, as Trask tries valiantly and fails to keep up with a strong attack let loose on Florida’s less than stout defense.
In the latter, it’s because it’s unfair to expect anything. Florida played inspired ball for short stretches against Florida State in the minutes and hours after Johnson crumpled to the floor, rendering many of his teammates teary-eyed and traumatized, but fell to a Seminoles team rendered deeper by the unfortunate injury in a game that never felt as if it really needed to be concluded. Vanderbilt meets (9 p.m., ESPN2 or WatchESPN) that reduced Florida team — one that really doesn’t have a player who can replicate Johnson’s unique build and skills — as a likely SEC also-ran, and the Gators should be able to pull out a win, even at Memorial Gym. But what they’ll look like and whether they’ll have focus and intensity to spare without their leader is anyone’s guess.
I also don’t have two perfectly functional screens tonight — I’ll be making do — and so I won’t be able to split my attention like I’d like to. I imagine most Gators will join me in that, even if there should be enough stagger for the hoops team to play during halftime and finish up before the fourth quarter concludes, so I decided to combine both threads here instead of writing up an ultimately unused basketball game thread. (Recaps will come separately, though.)
Regardless of my inability to thrill to these games, though, they go on — as we who have survived all have in this wicked, merciless year, trudging begrudgingly.