This is just the second time these two teams have met in their school’s histories. The last go around was for much higher stakes than this meeting as the Gators took down the Buckeyes in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game with relative ease.
Now a young Buckeye team led by freshman quarterback Braxton Miller will look to avenge that loss, sending interim coach Luke Fickell out with a loss in his last game as the head man before the Urban Meyer era begins.
When: Monday, January 2nd 2012 1:00 PM EST
Where: Everbank Field, Jacksonville, FL
LINE: -2 (Florida), O/U 44
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The Gators head into this one as a slight, two-point favorite over the Buckeyes, and that slim advantage basically tells the story in this one. With as much as a flip of a coin, this contest could be decided on just a single pay or one late drive. A highly-contested match-up between two 6-6 teams that have been wildly inconsistent all year. Both teams are incredibly talented as shown by a numerous amount of top 10 and five recruiting classes, but each have underwent coaching changes lately and have suffered as a result.
These two teams are also remarkably similar in the amount of points they put on the scoreboard, and what they hold their opponents to in each game. In Florida’s games this season there has been an average of 46.2 points scored per game. The Gators have scored 25.6 of those, while they have been allowing 20.6. Then take a look at the Buckeyes numbers and you see just how similar these two teams have scored the ball this season. Ohio State has scored 25.1 a game, while allowing 20.8 for a total of 45.9. The total for this one currently sits at 44, so you may want to get in on this one before there are any moves.
The one separating factor here, is the fact that Florida gets the added benefit of playing this one in their own backyard. That’s probably why Ohio is being spotted the two points in the spread, because there is not a whole lot separating these two teams. The Gators throw the ball a little better, though, averaging just shy of 200 passing yards per contest(190.2). Even with that stat, health concerns still surround Gator quarterback John Brantley. If he is able to shake off the concussion symptoms and avoid the turnover bug, I fully see the Gators as a team capable of covering the two point spread.
On the other hand, you have an Ohio State team that is led by the constantly improving Braxton Miller. As a result of Miller’s play, the Buckeyes are the more efficient running team of the two as Miller adds in the extra threat from the backfield every play. If the Buckeyes get an early score and are able to establish their ground attack, they should be able to spring what would be a very minor upset here.
This game will no doubt come down to who values the ball more. The team that is able to force the extra turnover, and grab the extra possession for their offense, will likely come out ahead in this game. Ohio State has been better in that category all season long, which is why I think they will come out with a very narrow win in Jacksonville, going slightly over the 44 points given.
Matt’s Prediction: Ohio State 24 – Florida 21
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