In what could be one of the more intriguing matchups of this bowl slate, the Florida Gators take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2012 Gator Bowl from EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL.
The intrigue of course surrounds the recent hire by Ohio State of former Florida head coach Urban Meyer. In 10 years as a head coach, Meyer owns an impressive record of 104-23, and his .814 winning percentage is the 10th- best in the history of major college football. Meyer, of course, led Florida to a pair of national titles during his six years in Gainesville.
Meyer has said he won't attend the game, but having recruited the majority of Florida's current roster, and knowing that he has probably had some input in Ohio State's game plan, it will be hard not to see the impact he has on both teams.
Additional drama for Ohio State comes in the form of the recent announcement from the NCAA that the Buckeyes are banned from bowl consideration next year, meaning Meyer's first foray with his new team into the postseason won't occur until at least 2013.
Florida is currently coached by Meyer's successor, Will Muschamp, and he guided the Gators to a 6-6 mark this season, which included a disappointing 3-5 finish in the SEC. UF opened the season at 4-0, but a winless October (0-4), had the team at .500 coming down the stretch. The Gators alternated wins and losses during a four-week stretch in November, with the finale being a 21-7 setback at home to non-conference rival Florida State.
Florida is appearing in its 21st straight bowl game, and its 39th overall. The Gators are 19-19 in the postseason, and this is their ninth trip to the Gator Bowl, where they are 6-2 all-time. Their last appearance in this particular bowl game took place on December 31, 1992, and resulted in a 27-10 victory over NC State.
Ohio State came into the 2011 campaign trying to put the negative feelings of an off-season steeped in controversy behind it, but the Buckeyes simply never found their rhythm. Interim head coach Luke Fickell, who has been retained by Meyer to work on the defensive side of the ball in 2012, did his best to lead an undermanned team to a 6-6 mark, and a 3-5 ledger in the Big Ten Conference. OSU lost its final three games of the regular season, the last being a 40-34 defeat at bitter rival Michigan.
Ohio State is making its first appearance in the Gator Bowl since 1978 when it lost to Clemson in a 17-15 final. Overall, the Buckeyes are appearing in their 11th consecutive bowl game, and they own an all-time record of 19-22 in bowl games dating back to their very first Rose Bowl appearance in 1921. This is OSU's first bowl game in the state of Florida since the 2002 Outback Bowl.