Bowl Breakdown: Gator

Publish date:

Ohio State (6-6) vs. Florida (6-6)Jan. 2, 1 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Reason to watch: Urban Meyer's past collides with his future when Florida faces Ohio State. The former Gators coach and newly hired Buckeyes headman has said he won't attend the game, which interim Luke Fickell and his staff will coach. Still, it's going to be hard to ignore the elephant that's not in the room. Meyer recruited most of the players on Florida's roster and he'll almost certainly add a wrinkle or two to Ohio State's offensive game plan. This will also be Ohio State fans' last taste of the postseason until 2013 after the NCAA slapped the program with a one-year bowl ban in the wake of the swag-for-tats scandal that cost Jim Tressel his job.

Keep an eye on: Ohio State's Braxton Miller versus the Florida defensive front. The freshman quarterback totaled 695 rushing yards and seven scores over the last seven games while averaging 15 rushing attempts. He's going to run, and that could be trouble for a Florida unit that has been burned by mobile passers, most notably South Carolina's Connor Shaw, who ran for 88 yards and two scores. The onus will be on tackle Jaye Howard (60 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, four sacks) and Co. to keep pressure on Miller and stop him from producing big plays. Miller has proven he can deliver with his arm if given time to throw, as his career high 25-attempt, 235-yard effort against Michigan showed. This matchup should decide the game.

Did you know: The Gators ran the fewest offensive plays of any team in the nation this season with 735. The Buckeyes weren't much more prolific with 747, good for 115th out of 120 FBS teams.

Final analysis: Florida will benefit from quarterback John Brantley being the healthiest he's been since the Gators won four of their first five games. But regardless of Brantley's health, this offense has struggled to maintain drives, ranking 101st in both yards per game and time of possession. That shouldn't change against lineman John Simon and the Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes will audition for Meyer with a victory.

The pick: Ohio State 23, Florida 20