Urban Meyer will not be patrolling the sidelines for either Ohio State or Florida in the 2012 Gator Bowl, but you can bet his presence will heavily felt. The former Florida coach was recently hired by Ohio State to help turn around a program that barely qualified for a bowl game this year, after winning at least 10 games in seven of the past eight years.
In a way, both teams should probably thank Meyer that anyone will really care about this game. With a pair of 6-6 teams facing off in an otherwise forgettable bowl, there is little reason to care about it otherwise.
The Buckeyes head into this matchup having lost three straight games, following a decent start that had them sitting at 6-3 with two wins over Top 25 teams. But losses to No. 21 Penn State and No. 15 Purdue left Ohio State with their worst record since 1999 and with six losses for just the third time since 1948.
Although all three of those season-ending losses were by less than a touchdown, it was clear that the Buckeyes were clearly not the same team without Jim Tressel on the sidelines. Their passing offense, never really a strength anyway, was downright awful. The Buckeyes averaged just 124.1 yards per game through the air and their 25.1 points per game was the 76th best average in the nation. Their rushing offense was not bad, averaging 195.4 yards per game, but no running back rushed for as many as 700 yards this season.
As bad as the Buckeyes may have been, Florida was even worse. In their first season without Meyer, the Gators finished with their worst seasons since going winless in 1979. After starting the season 4-0, they finished it out going 2-6 and did not beat a team with a winning record after topping then 2-1 Kentucky on Sept. 24.
The creativity and explosiveness that defined Florida during most of the past 30 years was absent under current head coach Will Muschamp. The Gators finished with the 88th best passing offense, the 75th best rushing offense and scored an average of 25.6 points per game (72nd). Their only saving grace was the play of the defense, which allowed 20.6 points per game (25th).
This all comes in stark contrast to the one and only previous time these two teams met. That was back in 2007 when they played for the national championship, which Florida won in a 41-14 romp. Just for good measure, Florida won the basketball championship three months later, again beating Ohio State in the final.
For the latest updates on the Gator Bowl, be sure to follow this StoryStream.