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USA TODAY Sports' bowl projections has Gators playing a familiar in-state foe

USA TODAY Sports Media Group
USA TODAY Sports Media Group
 2022-11-28
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USA TODAY Sports’ Erick Smith released his updated bowl projections following the final week of the college football regular season. He projects the Florida Gators will take on the Central Florida Knights in the Birmingham Bowl to be played on Tuesday, Dec. 27 in what would be would be the second-straight postseason that UF and UCF play each other. The Knights beat the Gators 29-17 in last year’s Gasparilla Bowl.

Florida finished the season at 6-6, with all five of their six losses coming in SEC play. The other loss was against in-state rival Florida State last week. The regular season had its ups and downs, with the Gators coming out of the gate with a massive win over Utah, but then they then lost to Kentucky the following week and had inconsistent performances all season long.

At times, they looked like they turned a corner. Then, they would inexplicably lose games to opponents like Vanderbilt. Ultimately, Billy Napier will receive the extra practices that come with playing in a bowl game, something that every first-year coach wants to have.

UCF finished their regular season at 9-3 and will be playing in the American Athletic Conference championship game on Saturday. A win would not only give them the conference title, but they would be the front runners to represent the Group of Five at the Cotton Bowl. With their move to the Big 12 next season, this is their last opportunity to be the automatic New Year’s Six representatives that the Group of Five is guaranteed.

If the Knights are going to play the Gators in the Birmingham Bowl, that would mean they lose to Tulane on Saturday, a team they beat earlier in the season. They are coming off a win over USF that saw them blow a 28-point lead at one point and required their backup quarterback to lead them down the field to score the game-winning touchdown with seconds to spare.

With conference championship games this weekend, bowl assignments will be put on hold until Sunday afternoon. The College Football Playoff Selection Show will announce the four playoff teams first, followed by the New Year’s Six bowl games. After those have been announced, individual bowl games will be to be announced throughout the day.

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