Florida to Kick Off 2017 Football Season Against Michigan in Arlington, TX

A common question asked: when, if ever, will Florida play a non-conference, regular season game outside of the state of Florida? You now have your answer. The Gators will open the 2017 season against Michigan in the 2017 Cowboys Classic in Arlington, TX.

Florida Gators vs. Michigan Wolverines

Florida will technically play the role of the home team in this matchup, although there will nothing homey about it. Mark September 2, 2017 on your calendar, fans (if you are proactive enough to already have a 2017 calendar), as that could be the date the future of all Gators non-conference scheduling changes forever. Although there are many times we’d like to live in our SEC bubble while at the same time stay inside the boundaries of Florida for our non-conference games, this represents an item many fans have been waiting to check off of their wish lists.

We, as Gators fans, understand the schedule we face on an annual basis that comes with being a part of the SEC, but we also wonder what it would be like to play in one of those big, early season games. Florida now has its chance to experience something they haven’t in quite some time. But don’t expect this to become a common occurrence. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley has already said this could be a rarity.

“It will be very much the exception, not the rule, but to sit here and totally close the door on these opportunities just doesn’t make sense.”

Foley went on to say that the trip will be a great one for fans. While he likes the idea of seven homes games, he also thought this was an opportunity that was too good to pass up.

For the Gators, this game could go down in history as one of the program’s great moments, but the big question of who will be coaching Florida at that time remains. Will Muschamp will return for the 2014 season, but unless a turnaround occurs, 2017 is too far in the future to believe he’ll still be coaching the Gators at that time. If he is still employed by the University of Florida, he will be entering his seventh year at that point. That actually might be great news for Florida fans as it means he will have done something (actually, many things) very right in 2014 and beyond.

For now, we can concentrate on the game more than the man who will be leading the Gators to it. Florida plays Michigan at a larger-than-life neutral site and I, for one, will do everything in my power to be there.

College Basketball and the Final Four Moves On, With or Without the Florida Gators

The hangover has ended. The college basketball world has moved on from the Florida Gators’ loss and so must we. We may not want to completely, but it has to happen eventually, so we might as well pull off the band-aid and realize that for the third-consecutive season, the Gators fell just one game short of the Final Four.

2013 Final Four

Without the Gators to spark our interest over the final few days of the 2012-13 college basketball season, we might as well turn our attention to those remaining in the field for an NCAA March Madness update.

Michigan – We’ll start with the Wolverines for no other reason than they were the team that took down our beloved Florida. It was an ugly game during which the Gators never seemed to have any chance of pulling out a victory. Now Michigan moves on with Trey Burke – the Wooden Award winner – and a roster full of big names. There’s a part of me that wants the Wolverines to win it all; sort of that you-beat-us-now-you-might-as-well-keep-winning feeling. Take note, that feeling doesn’t apply to a handful of schools we’d classify as rivals, and as always Ohio State.

Wichita State – Then there’s the underdog. It’s hard not to cheer for the little guy that wasn’t supposed to be here. Ultimately though, the little guy exits without the trophy. Butler came close not once, but twice, but we haven’t had that true Cinderella finish the story with a happy ending. So with the Shockers comes that part of me that hopes they knock off the big bad schools and “shock the world.” It doesn’t seem likely, but don’t you want to see it happen just once?

Louisville – We move on to the Cardinals and the team that knocked the Gators out of the NCAA Tournament just one year ago. We don’t have a burning desire to want Louisville to win. After all, we still feel the sting of last season and the Sugar Bowl just a few months ago. And there has to be some rule written somewhere about being a Florida fan and not cheering for Rick Pitino, even if he did help Billy Donovan become the coach he is today. In the end though, would we be all that disappointed if they won it for Kevin Ware? Probably not.

Syracuse – And finally we get to the Orange. Hmm. No real reason to cheer for Syracuse from the mindset of a Gators’ fan. Florida last played the Orange on December 2, 2011 and lost. There is no lingering pain from another sport, but also no feel-good story we have a real reason to gravitate to. They are the Orange; we like the color orange. Nope. Not enough. They don’t get a cheering section from this Florida fan and I can’t imagine they do from many others.

Many have made their picks; now it’s your turn. There are three games left. Make your selection.

Who will win the 2013 NCAA Tournament?

    Louisville (80%, 4 Votes)

    Michigan (20%, 1 Votes)

    Syracuse (0%, 0 Votes)

    Wichita State (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 5

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Michigan Wolverines 79 – Florida Gators 59: Gators Season Comes to a Painful End

The end hurt. It was as painful as a loss could be. The Michigan Wolverines came sprinting out of the gate and never looked back, defeating the Florida Gators 79-59 in the process. For the Wolverines, the Final Four awaits. For the Gators, the 2012-13 season has come to a close, the third-straight that has ended in the Elite Eight. That’s an accomplishment to be proud of, but not now and not for some time. For now, it was an embarrassing showing by a team that had the talent and ability to put up more of a fight.

Florida Gators - Michigan Wolverines

We saw dominance against Northwestern State. We saw a big lead held on to if barely and then turned into an impressive win against Minnesota. We saw a comeback against Florida Gulf Coast. And we saw little of anything against Michigan. Florida was overwhelmed from the start and lost almost every battle–shooting percentages across the board, assists, steals and turnovers. Even when the Gators marched back in an attempt to make a game out of it, the Wolverines were too much and too steady to be overtaken. One team didn’t play it’s best while the other looked very good. What could have been one for the ages, ended up being a 20-point margin in a game that was decided early.

Now we have the time to ponder it all. Over the months to come, we’ll talk about Erik Murphy’s 0-for-11 performance. We may discuss how the Gators went 2-for-10 from behind the three-point line. We’ll wonder why in 15 minutes of game time, Florida’s leading shooter from behind the arc–Michael Frazier II–didn’t attempt a single three. We’ll wonder how the outcome would have been affected if at the 16:57 mark of the first half the score hadn’t been 13-0 in Michigan’s favor. We have a lot of time on our hands and a lot to wonder. Most important of all how it all ended in a 20-point loss in the Elite Eight.

Eventually, we’ll feel excitement toward next season. It will be quite some time from now, but it will come. We wish it would come sooner for obvious reasons. We want to erase Sunday and will painfully watch the Final Four for the third-straight year wishing the Gators were a part of it. But for now, we mourn the disappointing end to what had become a relatively good season.

Florida Gators vs. Michigan Wolverines: For a Trip to the Final Four

The Florida Gators have been here before. In fact, the Gators have become a frequent Elite Eight attendee in recent years. Sunday’s game will mark the fifth time in the last eight seasons that head coach Billy Donovan has led Florida to the Elite Eight. The first two ended very well; the most recent two not so much. It’s anyone’s guess what this season’s trip will bring.

Billy Donovan - Florida Gators

We’re hoping it isn’t a repeat of the last two seasons. In 2011, Florida was leading Butler by 11 with less than 10 minutes to play. The Bulldogs overcame the deficit to force overtime where they disposed of the Gators. In 2012, the Gators led by 11 late again, only to watch that lead also evaporate. Louisville marched back to send Florida packing that season. A repeat of those outcomes would be a nightmare for the Gators and Florida fans everywhere. To have the Final Four so close and then watch it be taken away in a few minutes is, well, heartbreaking.

The opponent this time around is Michigan. The same Michigan that gave us the Fab Four in the early 1990s. (WARNING! FOOTBALL MENTION COMING! And an Outback Bowl defeat none of us want to remember.) This Wolverines’ squad has some of that flashy feel to it too, while also feeling a little like the Gators’ 04s. They have links to the NBA–Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III are both stars. And there’s the biggest link of them all–Al Horford’s younger brother Jon is a redshirt sophomore forward. Hopefully, this Michigan team doesn’t have the same end to their season that those Florida teams did. We’d all like their run to end here and now.

Few like the Gators in this one, despite the fact that Florida is favored. They feel Michigan may be a team of destiny, while Florida is a team on the brink off running out of steam. The Gators have had moments that almost make those feelings warranted, but there’s something about this team that keeps us believing. A 21-point lead against Minnesota was almost gone when the Gators turned the pressure back up and won easily. Against Florida Gulf Coast, Florida found itself deep in a hole early, only to bounce back and dominate the Eagles over the final 25 minutes. Three games, three wins by at least 12. Again, there’s just something about this team.

It may not be the Hardaways and Robinsons and Horfords that Florida has to worry about most. All good players and contributors (even if Horford is seeing less time), the two hot hands come from elsewhere. Trey Burke only scored six points in the Wolverines’ opening win over South Dakota State, then exploded for 18 and 23 against VCU and Kansas. He’s also averaging eight assists per game in the tournament. Then there’s freshman fan favorite Mitch McGary. Averaging 18.9 minutes per game over the course of the season, McGary has played 25, 34 and 35 in Michigan’s three tournament games. He’s also the Wolverines’ leading scorer in the tourney with 19.7 points per game to go along with 12.3 rebounds. If there’s any one player the Gators need to stop, it might just be McGary.

Donovan will have the Gators ready, but the question is whether they can play at their best for a full 40 minutes. Against Minnesota and Florida Gulf Coast, it may not have been needed. Against Michigan, it’s a must. The Wolverines will take advantage of any misstep by the Gators and it will be that much harder for Florida to hang on. This should be a fun one to watch, but with a Final Four appearance on the line, it’s all business for both teams.

Florida Gators 62 – Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 50: Gators Put an End to Cinderella’s Dream

With 5:16 left in the first half of Saturday’s Sweet Sixteen matchup between the Florida Gators and the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, the Cinderella Eagles led the Gators 24-14. The nation was on its feet cheering on the little team that could, the first 15-seed to ever reach the Sweet Sixteen. We were all witnessing history and it was getting even better. Those of us in orange and blue land were shell shocked, wondering if this was all really happening. And just like that it wasn’t and order was restored.

Casey Prather - Florida Gators

For the first 15 minutes, the Eagles controlled the game as the Gators seemed to unravel before our very eyes. The next 25 minutes would be an entirely different story. Over the final five minutes of the first half and the entire second half, Florida would outscore Florida Gulf Coast 48-26 on route to a 62-50 Gators’ victory and a third-straight Elite Eight appearance. The Eagles performance in the 2013 NCAA Tournament was admirable, but it all came crashing to an end when, for 25 minutes, the Gators showed the world what a talent gap truly is.

From time to time, games like this come down to numbers. Realistically, this one came down to the aforementioned talent, but there were numbers to factor in as well. The Eagles out-shot the Gators to the tune of 45.5% to 38.6%. That was the only statistic Florida Gulf Coast would win that mattered.

20 is another important one. The Eagles connected on 20 of their field-goal attempts. They would also commit 20 turnovers. When those numbers match, there’s a better than good chance you’ll end up on the losing side of things. The Gators’ ratio? 22-to-10.

The Eagles had less rebounds, assists and steals and nearly double the personal fouls. They shot better from behind the three-point line, but also had 12 less attempts at the charity stripe. Those 12 more attempts were critical as the Gators made eight of them. Eight more made free throws and a 12-point margin of victory; there’s a link there.

When all nearly looking lost in the first half, Billy Donovan altered his strategy. He leaned on Michael Frazier II and Casey Prather to provide sparks. Frazier was only on the court for 13 minutes, but had two critical threes as the Gators mounted their comeback. And then there was the dunk pictured above from Prather, who would end with 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting. Sometimes a picture really is worth a million words.

We could beat the Cinderella angle to death, and we probably should with how much we heard about it over the past week, but we won’t. We’ll let Florida Gulf Coast slump off into the night. They should be proud of what they accomplished this season, but David doesn’t always slay Goliath. No, David is going home and Goliath has a date with a pack of nasty wolverines. Florida vs. Michigan, 2:20 PM, Sunday.

Guess The Ranking: After A 1-1 Week, Where Will The Florida Gators End Up In The Polls?

With Saturday’s 64-52 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Florida Gators finished their second consecutive 1-1 week. The Gators entered the previous 1-1 week at No. 5 in the AP Poll and No. 4 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. One win and one loss later and Florida fell to No. 8 and No. 6. This week was similar–unranked loss, followed by an unranked win. Will the Gators suffer the same fate and drop further in the polls? It’s not always that simple as there are other factors and those factors are the teams ranked around them.

Billy Donovan - Florida Gators

How the top 10 fared:

    • No. 1 Indiana – 1-1 – Unranked Loss, Unranked Win
    • No. 2 Gonzaga – 2-0 – Unranked Win, Unranked Win
    • No. 3 Duke – 1-1 – Unranked Loss, No. 5/7 Win
    • No. 4 Michigan – 1-0 – Unranked Win*
    • No. 5/7 Miami – 1-1 – Unranked Win, No. 3 Loss
    • No. 6/5 Kansas – 2-0 – Unranked Win, Unranked Win
    • No. 7/8 Georgetown – 2-0 – Unranked Win, Unranked Win
    • No. 8/6 Florida – 1-1 – Unranked Loss, Unranked Win
    • No. 9/10 Michigan State – 0-1 – No. 16/15 Loss*
    • No. 10/9 Louisville – 2-0 – Unranked Win, No. 12 Win

* No. 4 Michigan hosts No. 9/10 Michigan State on Sunday, March 3.

To the rundown:

    • Despite Indiana’s loss to an unranked opponent–Minnesota–Florida has a similar loss, so the Gators will not pass the Hoosiers.
    • With a perfect week and the least amount of losses on the season–two–among the top-10 teams, Gonzaga made a strong case that it should be the nation’s No. 1 team.
    • Duke’s loss to Virginia hurt, but the entire country watched the Blue Devils win a great one over the Hurricanes. After the Duke win, there’s no chance Florida passes or even catches them in the polls.
    • If Michigan beats Michigan State, the Wolverines stay in the top four and possibly move into the top three. Even if they lose to the No. 9/10 Spartans, the Wolverines still stay ahead of the Gators due to Florida’s loss to Tennessee.
    • Miami’s 1-1 record over the week is better than Florida’s. The loss to the Blue Devils doesn’t hurt the Canes at all, especially when you consider the big win Miami had over Duke earlier in the season. The Canes stay higher in the AP Poll, as they are now, and possibly jump the Gators in the Coaches Poll.
    • Kansas was ranked higher than Florida in both polls and thanks to a 2-0 week stays that way.
    • Georgetown will stay ahead of Florida in the AP Poll and probably jump the Gators in the Coaches Poll thanks to a 2-0 week.
    • Michigan State’s loss isn’t an awful one, but they could be 0-2 on the week after Sunday’s game against Michigan. Those would be two quality losses, but losses all the same. However, if the Spartans upset the Wolverines, there’s a chance they jump the Gators.
    • Louisville’s 2-0 week with an impressive win over Syracuse gives the Cardinals the ammo to jump the Gators in the AP Poll. They have a higher climb in the Coaches Poll, but it’s not out of the question.
    • There’s no real danger of the Gators falling behind a team outside of the top 10. Both No. 11 Arizona and No. 12 Syracuse went 0-2 this week and No. 13 Kansas State has too far to climb.

Looking at all of that, there’s a real chance that Florida could find itself at No. 10 in both polls if Michigan State can defeat Michigan. That’s tough to stomach, but there were five teams ranked higher than the Gators in both polls–Indiana, Gonzaga, Duke, Michigan and Kansas. None of those five will fall below Florida even if Michigan loses to Michigan State. Miami and Georgetown were ahead of Florida in one poll and behind the Gators in another. Both had good enough weeks to claim they should be higher than Florida in both polls. It’s hard to argue with that. Even Louisville has a chance to jump Florida thanks to their 2-0 week. And finally, there’s Michigan State–the wild card if you will. If they lose on Sunday, the Gators are safely in the top nine (and possibly higher) of both polls. If they win, well, see the first sentence of this paragraph.

I, like all of you, was excited by Saturday’s impressive comeback and double-digit win over Alabama. But looking at the polls realistically, it’s hard to imagine Florida moving up in either. Of course, polls mean little in college basketball and this really is just an exercise in guessing and pride (I suppose). It all comes down to NCAA Tournament seedings, but we can have fun in the meantime. So in that spirit, what do you think?

Where do you rank the Florida Gators?

    No. 9 (40%, 4 Votes)

    No. 8 (20%, 2 Votes)

    No. 10 (20%, 2 Votes)

    Top 5 (10%, 1 Votes)

    No. 6 (10%, 1 Votes)

    No. 7 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 10

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The Bull Gator Week 12 BlogPoll Top 25

The TBG entry in the BlogPoll in all its glory with expanded commentary below…

LSU and Oklahoma State hold the inside track to play for the national title, but you already knew that. Houston keeps winning, but is as much of a long shot as Boise State is year after year. The Broncos and Stanford did make the picture a little clearer though by bowing out of the race. Where things will get interesting is if the Tigers or Cowboys lose.

If LSU does lose a game, can you realistically take Alabama or Oregon – two teams the Tigers beat – over them? No you can’t, but as we’ve seen in the past, losing late in the season hurts more than losing early. The Ducks’ loss to the Tigers has almost reached out of site, out of mind status.

If Oklahoma State drops one, is the possibility of a LSU-Bama rematch restored? The Crimson Tide would be the most attractive team to play for the title with only one very close loss to the nation’s top team, but they also wouldn’t have won their own conference. Of course, the alternative isn’t much better. The Ducks could win the Pac-12, but like Bama, Oregon has already lost to LSU.

All of that and it boils down to this, the picture is only clear if the Tigers and Cowboys win out. If one, or both, don’t, enjoy the chaos.

The big climbers of the week are Georgia (up four spots) and Michigan (up five). The Bulldogs are in the driver’s seat to win the SEC East, which is almost laughable considering none of us expected that before the season. It wouldn’t be the first time the “experts” crowned a champion too early. The Wolverines are part of a Big Ten contingent at 8-2 that makes that conference about as easy to figure out as all the scandal surrounding it.

The biggest losers of the week are Cincinnati (falling 10 spots) and Penn State (a 12-spot drop and a season that will be difficult to salvage due to one of the darkest clouds hanging over it we’ve ever seen). The Bearcats still have the inside track to the Big East while the Nittany Lions 5-1 Big Ten record could quickly become 5-3 with visits to Ohio State and Wisconsin to close the regular season.

One team to keep an eye on is Southern Miss who could quietly move into the top 10 before all is said and done.

Friday Night Links: Jeff Demps, Tim Tebow, D.J. Humphries, And More

Time once again. It’s Friday and the weekend is upon us. Those of you on the East coast may have already started your weekend while the rest of you count down the final few hours. Here are some links to get you through the weekend. We’re now less than four weeks away from the first game of the college football season. It’s oh so close, but not here just yet, so read up.

Let the links begin…
How will the Gators do this season? (Upon Further Review Sports)
It’s less than 33 days away from the first Florida football game, but earlier this week it was exactly that and #33 was Errict Rhett. (Gator Envy)

Also in the jersey numbers file, Jeff Demps may have a new one. (CBS Sports)

A little USF for you. Could the Bulls wear green helmets in the future? (The Bull Rush)
Lists are fun. Here’s the top 40 players in the SEC according to Athlon. (Athlon)

Denard Robinson was more than exciting last season. This time around, Michigan has a new system. Can Robinson succeed? (National Football Post)

It has been Tim Tebow week. (National Football Post)
We just had to direct you to this again. (Every Day Should Be Saturday)
Purdue has new uniforms. Dislike. (CBS Sports)
Will Muschamp is a man. He’s 40. Be sure to check out all of the 50 for 50 installments while you’re at it. (Alligator Army)

And finally, D.J. Humphries is set to commit tonight. Florida is among the finalists. (ESPN)

Florida Gators To Play For National Championship

In 2005, the Florida baseball team made it to the finals of the College World Series. The Gators would lose the national championship to Texas that season and ultimately be forgotten not long after when the football and basketball teams went on their magical runs. That Florida squad has a special place in Gators history despite not taking home a title. Until now, it was the baseball team that made it farther than any others – all the way to play for a national championship.
On Monday night in Omaha, the Gators will play for the title again. After defeating Vanderbilt 6-4 on Friday, Florida advanced to the finals where they will face South Carolina – a SEC East rival and, oh yeah, the defending national champions. The teams met in a three-game series earlier this season with the Gamecocks winning two. Both teams are hot – as you would expect by two meeting for the national title – with Florida winning 10 of its last 11 and South Carolina on an eight-game winning streak.
Not only does Florida have a chance to bring home their first baseball national championship, the Gators could become only the third Division 1A/FBS/however-else-you-want-to-say-big athletics program with a title in football, basketball, and baseball. Michigan and Ohio State are the two that currently hold that distinction. By winning, the baseball team would also join men’s indoor track and field and women’s tennis as title winners this academic year.
Florida and South Carolina will play on Monday and Tuesday at 8:00 and Wednesday at the same time if necessary. Each game will be televised by ESPN. And just in case you aren’t pumped enough for Monday, take a look at Gators catcher Mike Zunino breaking his bat. Sure they aren’t aluminum anymore, but it’s still an impressively shocking feat.

The Long Snapper (6/11/10)

College football.  Quick and to the point.  All new issue free of expansion talk!
USF’s football team is making progress in terms of academics.  The Bulls’ four-year score increase matched Illinois for largest in the nation.  USF achieved a 956 this year raising their four-year score from 909 to 930.  Four years ago, the Bulls scored an 879.  Quite an improvement in that span.  And in case you’re wondering, the lowest score in the Big East goes to Louisville at 926.  Get those kids headed in the right direction Charlie!
Remember Demar Dorsey?  Sure you do.  Super recruit who committed to Florida, flirted with Tennessee, and then signed with Michigan.  Well folks, he won’t end up a Wolverine.  After qualifying academically (supposedly), Dorsey wasn’t admitted by Michigan.  It’s rumored prior charges may have had something to do with it.  Dorsey had previously been charged with two felonies – one was dismissed and he was acquitted of the other.  The defensive back was recruiting by virtually every big school and could end up anywhere now that he has been released from his letter of intent.
The Colorado Rockies seem to have a thing for college football quarterbacks.  They have a couple of former SEC QBs in their organization and just added two from the ACC.  With the 26th pick in the draft, the Rockies took Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker.  Earlier this season, Parker became the first athlete to throw 20 passes and hit 20 homeruns in one academic year in division one college athletics history.  Being selected that high could mean Parker won’t be returning to the Tigers’ football team.  Colorado may offer him more than enough money to make that decision for him, but head coach Dabo Swinney hopes Parker realizes he’s an extremely talented football player as well.  First round talent though?  Probably not.
In the fourth round, the Rockies selected NC State quarterback Russell Wilson.  Wilson threw 31 touchdown passes to lead the ACC last season and hit .306 for the baseball team.  Unlike Parker, he already seems sure of his future.  Wilson would like to see what he can do in the Rockies system as well as return to play QB for the Wolfpack.  He’s hoping arrangements can be made for him to do both.