We’ve arrived at the end of the Florida Gators’ season. Before it all started, we had an idea it would be rough. What we didn’t know is exactly how many bumps we’d hit in the road along the way. This may seems excessive and (cue violins) it was all difficult to stomach as a fan coming off of the 2006-2009 era. Cry me a river, right? Well, we will. Facing the prospect of a losing season can do that to you. It coming down to a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes can ruin you even further.
Opponent: Ohio State Buckeyes
When: Monday, January 2, 2012 – 1:00 PM
Where: Gator Bowl – Jacksonville, FL
Television/Radio: ESPN2, Gator Sports Network, Sirius 91, XM 91
Records: Florida: 6-6 (3-1 Non-Conference), Ohio State: 6-6 (3-1 Non-Conference)
Rankings: Florida: NR, Ohio State: NR
Point Spread: Florida -2
Calculated Score: Florida 23-21
Points Scored: Florida: 25.6, Ohio State: 25.1
Points Allowed: Florida: 20.6, Ohio State: 20.8
Someone in Las Vegas really isn’t trying, but then again how can you really blame them? The over/under of 44 is only slightly lower than the averages each team scores and allows. A statistical over/under for Florida would be 46.2 and that number for Ohio State would come in at 45.9. Oddsmakers took about two points off those averages to come up with an over/under both teams may be thrilled to reach.
To say this season was a disappointment for both squads would be like saying any of you reading this enjoy the game of football. It’s an obvious statement that is repeated ad nauseam. To begin, let’s go with coaching situations for $200 Alex…
Urban Meyer out. Will Muschamp in. Jim Tressel out. Luke Fickell in. Luke Fickell out. Urban Meyer in. Will Muschamp out? Not to worry, I’m not on the fire Muschamp bandwagon that seemed so popular even before the season started. The man was going to get a head coaching gig somewhere soon anyway. I will say that doesn’t comfort me completely, but if the Gators were going the assistant route, he had to be at the top of the list. What happens in 2012 (or 2013) remains to be seen, but I’ll still be behind him for the time being. It’s always been my opinion that a coach needs three years. With what Muschamp was left with, year one could have been predicted even if it’s incredibly hard to swallow.
We’re sure to hear about it today, but this game actually isn’t about Meyer. I know that’s a surprise to some, but read a bit further. Meyer doesn’t coach Florida and hasn’t since the conclusion of the 2010 season. He also doesn’t coach Ohio State and won’t until the conclusion of the 2011 season. This game resides comfortably in the confines of the 2011 season. See how that works? I’m, of course, not just talking to fans of either team or college football in general, but the announcers as well.
Instead of the coaches, can we make this game about someone else? How about John Brantley? The much criticized Gators’ senior quarterback? As fans, we are typically only given one side of Brantley. With Tim Tebow, we saw on-the-field Tebow and plenty of off-the-field Tebow as well. We fell in love (or hated depending on your cheering preferences or general outlook on life) with both. With Brantley, it’s an entirely different story. We see what we see for 60 minutes each Saturday. Plenty of us may not like what we see. Some of those plenty have been extremely vocal about it. What is lost in all of this is that this is a kid (and I use that term loosely; I understand his age indicates he is not one, but all of us definitely were still “kids” in college) just trying to do his best.
You may not be satisfied with his best. You may even be upset that he never lived up to his potential or the hype given to him by, well, all of us. But through the criticisms, injuries, coaching changes and down seasons, Brantley keeps coming back. He wasn’t what was expected, but he stuck with it. Five years as a Gator with one final game remaining. If you don’t wish him well for 60 more minutes, that’s your choice. It’s not one I’ll take. For his sake, I want him to go out on a positive note. Yes, I believe he deserves it. He’s had to put up with everything we’ve given him for the last two seasons. Outwardly, he seems to do that well. Inwardly, who knows? Maybe I’m naïve in that I generally wish the best for people (especially those donning the orange and blue). Maybe I just need Brantley to perform so Florida can avoid 6-7. Maybe I just hope he gets his one shining moment.
This preview quickly went from coaches to the end of John Brantley’s college career. For the liking of many, there’s probably too little about the game. That could be true, but you can get previews anywhere. There are plenty out there already. You know the teams by this point and you have your predicted outcome in your head. You don’t need me to tell you how Florida got here or where the Ohio State season went wrong. You already know that. What I hope is to just be able to enjoy the final game of the season. One last chance for the Gators to show us something.