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Gator Bowl Game Data: OSU-Florida

Gator Bowl Game Data: Ohio State vs. Florida

* Date, Time: Mon., Jan. 2, 1 p.m. (Eastern)

* Location: EverBank Stadium (capacity: 77,000); Jacksonville, Fla.

* TV: ESPN2 national telecast (announcers: Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham and Jeannine Edwards).

* 2011 Records: Ohio State, 6-6 overall, 3-5 Big Ten; Florida, 6-6 overall, 3-5 SEC.

* Coaches: Ohio State, Luke Fickell (first year at OSU, 6-6; vs. Florida, first meeting); Florida, Will Muschamp (first year at UF, 6-6; vs. OSU, first meeting).

* Series History: Florida leads the all-time series with OSU 1-0. That win came in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz. No. 2 Florida crushed No. 1 Ohio State 41-14 to win the national title in that game. OSU was held to just 82 yards total offense – the lowest total in any BCS bowl game ever.

Florida QB Chris Leak threw for 213 yards and a touchdown, while backup Tim Tebow (then a freshman) threw for a touchdown and ran for one. OSU opened that game with Ted Ginn Jr.’s 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but he was injured on that play and it was all downhill from there for the Buckeyes. Antonio Pittman had 60 yards on 10 carries, including an 18-yard TD. But Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Troy Smith was 4 of 14 passing for 35 yards with an interception. He also lost a fumble and was sacked five times by the Gators (three times by DE Derrick Harvey).

* Bowl History: Ohio State is 20-22 all-time in bowls, including a 17-15 loss to Clemson in the 1978 Gator Bowl (its only previous appearance in the Gator). OSU has won its last two bowl games.

Florida is 19-19 all-time in bowls with wins in its last three bowl games and five of its last six. Florida is 6-2 all-time in the Gator Bowl. The Gators’ previous Gator Bowl results: 1953, vs. Tulsa, W 14-13; 1958, vs. Mississippi, L 7-3; 1960, vs. Baylor, W 13-12; 1962, vs. Penn State, W 17-7; 1969, vs. Tennessee, W 14-13; 1975, vs. Maryland, L 13-0; 1983, vs. Iowa, W 14-6; 1992, vs. N.C. State, W 27-10.

* Ticket Information: Tickets are still available for the Gator Bowl at the OSU web site and the Gator Bowl web site, although it is unclear how many tickets remain.

On Friday, the Lantern (OSU’s student newspaper) reported that OSU had sold 7,500 of the 12,750 tickets it was allotted. OSU will have to absorb the cost of the 5,250 tickets it has left, priced at $60 to $120. In mid-December, it was reported that Florida – located just 70 miles from Jacksonville – had only sold 6,000 tickets.

* Florida Schedule: Sept. 3, Florida Atlantic, W 41-3; Sept. 10, UAB, W 39-0; Sept. 17, Tennessee, W 33-23; Sept. 24, at Kentucky, W 48-10; Oct. 1, Alabama, L 38-10; Oct. 8, at LSU, L 41-11; Oct. 15, at Auburn, L 17-6; Oct. 29, Georgia (at Jacksonville), L 24-20; Nov. 5, Vanderbilt, W 26-21; Nov. 12, at South Carolina, L 17-12; Nov. 19, Furman, W 54-32; Nov. 26, Florida State, L 21-7.

* Florida Key Players (2011 Stats): QB John Brantley (132 of 224 passing, 1,912 yards, 10 TDs, 6 INTs), RB Chris Rainey (155 carries, 790 yards, 2 TDs; 28 catches, 350 yards, 2 TDs), RB Jeff Demps (91 carries, 539 yards, 6 TDs; 15 catches, 165 yards), TE Jordan Reed (28 catches, 307 yards, 2 TDs), WR Deonte Thompson (19 catches, 237 yards), MLB Jonathan Bostic (86 tackles, 3 sacks, 6 TFLs), DB Matt Elam (72 tackles, 9 TFLs, 2 INTs), WLB Jelani Jenkins (71 tackles, 2 sacks, 6 TFLs, 1 INT), DE Ronald Powell (30 tackles, 5 sacks, 8 TFLs).

* Florida Fast Facts: Location: Gainesville, Fla.; Enrollment, 50,116; Conference: Southeastern Conference; Nickname, Gators; Colors, Orange and Blue; Stadium, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field (surface, Bermuda grass; capacity, 88,548).

* Ohio State Schedule: Sept. 3, Akron, W 42-0; Sept. 10, Toledo, W 27-22; Sept. 17, at Miami (Fla.), L 24-6; Sept. 24, Colorado, W 37-17; Oct. 1, Michigan State, L 10-7; Oct. 8, at Nebraska, L 34-27; Oct. 15, at Illinois, W 17-7; Oct. 29, Wisconsin, W 33-29; Nov. 5, Indiana, W 34-20; Nov. 12, at Purdue, L 26-23 (OT); Nov. 19, Penn State, L 20-14; Nov. 26, at Michigan, L 40-34.

* Ohio State Key Players (2011 Stats): QB Braxton Miller (67 of 134 passing, 997 yards, 11 TDs, 4 INTs; 144 carries, 695 yards, 7 TDs), RB Boom Herron (122 carries, 593 yards, 3 TDs), RB Carlos Hyde (101 carries, 549 yards, 6 TDs), RB Jordan Hall (96 carries, 384 yards, 2 TDs), TE Jake Stoneburner (14 catches, 193 yards, 7 TDs), WR Devin Smith (12 catches, 247 yards, 4 TDs), WR Corey “Philly” Brown (14 catches, 205 yards, 1 TD), LB Andrew Sweat (68 tackles, 5 TFLs, 1 INT), LB Etienne Sabino (58 tackles, 4-1/2 TFLs, 2 sacks), DE John Simon (50 tackles, 7 sacks, 15 TFLs), DT Johnathan Hankins (64 tackles, 11 TFLs, 3 sacks), DB C.J. Barnett (69 tackles, 2 INTs), DB Christian Bryant (61 tackles), CB Bradley Roby (41 tackles, 3-1/2 TFLs, 3 INTs).

Depth Charts

Ohio State Offense

WR 10 Corey “Philly” Brown, 5-11, 182, So.
15 Devin Smith, 6-3, 190, Fr.
LT 75 Mike Adams, 6-8, 320, Sr.
78 Andrew Norwell, 6-5, 308, So.
LG 78 Andrew Norwell, 6-5, 308, So.
79 Marcus Hall, 6-5, 321, So.
C 50 Mike Brewster, 6-5, 305, Sr.
51 Brian Bobek, 6-2, 280, Fr.
RG 74 Jack Mewhort, 6-6, 303, So.
71 Corey Linsley, 6-2, 301, So.
RT 76 J.B. Shugarts, 6-7, 300, Sr.
74 Jack Mewhort, 6-6, 303, So.
TE 11 Jake Stoneburner, 6-5, 245, Jr.
88 Reid Fragel, 6-8, 280, Jr.
QB 5 Braxton Miller, 6-3, 210, Fr.
13 Kenny Guiton, 6-2, 195, So.
or 14 Joe Bauserman, 6-1, 230, Sr.
TB 1 Daniel “Boom” Herron, 5-10, 205, Sr.
7 Jordan Hall, 5-9, 195, Jr.
or 34 Carlos Hyde, 6-0, 238, So.
FB 44 Zach Boren, 6-0, 252, Jr.
49 Adam Homan, 6-2, 248, Jr.
WR 8 DeVier Posey, 6-2, 213, Sr.
80 Chris Fields, 6-0, 180, So.
K 24 Drew Basil, 6-1, 212, So.
20 Russell Doup, 6-1, 175, Fr.

Ohio State Defense

DE (Leo) 54 John Simon, 6-2, 270, Jr.
98 Solomon Thomas, 6-5, 255, Sr.
LT 93 Adam Bellamy, 6-4, 302, So.
63 Michael Bennett, 6-3, 280, Fr.
NT 53 Garrett Goebel, 6-3, 290, Jr.
51 Joel Hale, 6-4, 310, Fr.
RT 52 Johnathan Hankins, 6-3, 335, So.
90 Darryl Baldwin, 6-4, 290, R-Fr.
WLB 10 Ryan Shazier, 6-2, 212, Fr.
6 Etienne Sabino, 6-3, 242, Jr.
MLB 42 Andrew Sweat, 6-2, 238, Sr.
32 Storm Klein, 6-2, 230, Jr.
SLB 6 Etienne Sabino, 6-3, 242, Jr.
14 Curtis Grant, 6-3, 225, Fr.
LCB 7 Travis Howard, 6-1, 190, Jr.
5 Dominic Clarke, 5-10, 191, So.
LS 2 Christian Bryant, 5-9, 190, So.
19 Orhian Johnson, 6-2, 205, Jr.
RS 4 C.J. Barnett, 6-0, 190, So.
16 Zach Domicone, 6-3, 211, Jr.
RCB 25 Bradley Roby, 5-11, 185, R-Fr.
12 Doran Grant, 5-11, 180, Fr.
Star 26 Tyler Moeller, 6-0, 210, Sr.
2 Christian Bryant, 5-9, 190, So.
P 17 Ben Buchanan, 6-0, 180, Jr.
39 Derek Erwin, 5-10, 200, Sr.
LS 56 George Makridis, 6-2, 230, So.
54 Bryce Haynes, 6-4, 185, Fr.

Florida Offense

WR (X) 4 Andre Debose 5-11 191 R-So
9 Quinton Dunbar 6-1 184 R-Fr
WR (Z) 6 Deonte Thompson 6-0 200 R-Sr
85 Frankie Hammond 6-1 184 R-Jr
TE 11 Jordan Reed 6-3 239 R-So
81 A.C. Leonard 6-4 244 Fr.
82 Omarius Hines 6-2 220 R-Jr
F-21 8 Trey Burton 6-3 229 So
41 Hunter Joyer 5-10 242 Fr
F-12 81 A.C. Leonard 6-4 244 Fr.
Z-11 85 Frankie Hammond 6-1 184 R-Jr
4 Andre Debose 5-11 191 R-So
HB 1 Chris Rainey 5-9 174 R-Sr
OR 28 Jeff Demps 5-7 191 Sr
23 Mike Gillislee 5-11 198 Jr
QB 12 John Brantley 6-3 219 R-Sr
17 Jacoby Brissett 6-3 239 Fr
OR 16 Jeff Driskel 6-4 235 Fr
LT 73 Xavier Nixon 6-6 292 Jr
OR 71 Matt Patchan 6-6 292 R-So
LG 72 Jonotthan Harrison 6-3 295 R-So
OR 64 Kyle Koehne 6-5 302 R-So
C 56 Dan Wenger 6-3 294 R-Sr
OR 72 Jonotthan Harrison 6-3 295 R-So
RG 67 Jon Halapio 6-3 324 R-So
58 Nick Alajajian 6-4 275 R-So
RT 71 Matt Patchan 6-6 292 R-So
OR 75 Chaz Green 6-5 306 R-Fr
K 19 Caleb Sturgis 5-11 183 R-Jr
97 Brad Phillips 5-10 191 S0

Florida Defense

Buck 7 Ronald Powell 6-4 248 So
34 Lerentee McCray 6-2 246 R-Jr
DT 99 Omar Hunter 6-1 305 R-Jr
44 Leon Orr 6-5 310 R-Fr
NT 6 Jaye Howard 6-3 303 R-Sr
44 Leon Orr 6-5 310 R-Fr
DE 73 Sharrif Floyd 6-3 295 So
96 William Green 6-4 256 Sr
91 Earl Okine 6-7 272 R-Jr
Sam 34 Lerentee McCray 6-2 246 R-Jr
49 Darrin Kitchens 6-2 229 So
Mike 52 Jonathan Bostic 6-1 243 Jr
51 Michael Taylor 6-0 227 R-Fr
Will 3 Jelani Jenkins 6-0 230 R-So
55 Graham Stewart 6-1 245 Fr
CB 31 Cody Riggs 5-9 179 So
36 Moses Jenkins 6-3 189 R-Sr
S 22 Matt Elam 5-10 206 So
21 Jabari Gorman 5-11 170 Fr
S 24 Josh Evans 6-1 199 Jr
26 De’Ante Saunders 5-8 192 Fr
CB 14 Jaylen Watkins 6-0 187 So
15 Loucheiz Purifoy 6-1 183 Fr
Nickel 26 De’Ante Saunders 5-8 192 Fr
22 Matt Elam 5-10 206 So
P 44 Kyle Christy 6-3 184 Fr
OR 40 David Lerner 6-0 194 Sr

Also Notable

* OSU lost its last three games of the regular season, marking the first time since 2004 that the Buckeyes had lost three in a row. OSU has not lost four games in a row since 1943, when the Buckeyes finished 3-6.

A loss would also give OSU its first losing season since the 1988 team ended up 4-6-1.

* The Gator Bowl is played at EverBank Field, which was originally Jacksonville Municipal Stadium and formerly Alltel Stadium. The stadium, home to the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, opened in 1995 as a replacement to the old Gator Bowl stadium. It also hosts the annual Georgia-Florida game.

The current stadium includes portions of the old stadium. At its opening it had a total capacity of 73,000, and expansions over the past decade have since increased that to 76,867. The stadium hosted Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005.

Jacksonville is like a second home town for Florida, which has played its annual rivalry game with Georgia in the city every year but two since 1933. The 1994-95 games were played at campus sites as the stadium was renovated. Georgia won this year’s game 24-20, but Florida has won 11 of the last 14 games played in the city.

* This is OSU’s first bowl game in Florida since 2002 Outback Bowl. OSU is 2-8 all-time in Florida bowl games with wins over Colorado in the 1977 Orange Bowl and BYU in the 1985 Citrus Bowl.

* OSU is 16-19 in bowls played on Jan. 1 or later.

* This is OSU’s 11th consecutive bowl appearance, a string that dates to 1999. The school record is 15 straight years between 1972-86. Because of the NCAA-imposed bowl ban for 2012, the current string will end after this year.

* OSU center Mike Brewster will make the 49th consecutive start in his career, leaving him one shy of the school record of 50 set by coach Luke Fickell from 1993-96.

* The traditional Jan. 1 bowls will be played on Jan. 2 this year because Jan. 1 fell on a Sunday, which is reserved by the networks for NFL games. The next time this will happen will be in 2017.

* This marks the second year in a row that four bowl games involving Big Ten teams will be played simultaneously. The TicketCity Bowl in Dallas will have Penn State-Houston at noon on ESPNU. The Gator Bowl on ESPN2 will be joined by the Capital One Bowl in Orlando with Nebraska-South Carolina on ESPN and the Outback Bowl in Tampa with Michigan State-Georgia in the 1 p.m. time slot.

The Wisconsin-Oregon Rose Bowl will then be played at 5 p.m. on ESPN. Michigan’s Sugar Bowl appearance against Virginia Tech will be Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

* Since 1993, Florida leads the nation with 18 January bowl games. Ohio State is next with 16, followed by Florida State (15), Michigan (14) and Tennessee and Penn State (13 each).

* Former Florida coach Urban Meyer, who won two national titles with the Gators in his stint in Gainesville (2005-10), was introduced as the new head coach at Ohio State on Nov. 28. He will be joined in Columbus by Florida strength and conditioning coordinator Mickey Marotti.

OSU assistant Stan Drayton did two stints as a Florida assistant under Meyer.

* OSU has nine players from Florida, including Brewster (Orlando), RB Jaamal Berry (Miami), DB Jeremy Cash (Plantation), TE Jeff Heuerman (Naples), CB Travis Howard (Miami), RB Carlos Hyde (Naples), DB Orhian Johnson (St. Petersburg), LB Etienne Sabino (North Miami Beach) and LB Ryan Shazier (Plantation).

There are no Florida players from Ohio.

* This will be the 67th annual Gator Bowl, sponsored by TaxSlayer.com.

Breaking It Down

* When Ohio State Has The Ball: This was one of the most disjointed seasons in recent memory for the OSU offense. The lineup changed from week to week due to suspensions and injuries. There was little or no continuity throughout. But some things finally clicked for the Buckeyes in the season-ending loss to Michigan as they rolled up 372 yards total offense and 34 points on the Wolverines.

QB Braxton Miller showed what he could be capable of as he accounted for 335 of those yards (235 passing, 100 rushing) and three touchdowns. Two of those TDs were long touchdown strikes, a 54-yarder to Philly Brown and a 43-yarder to DeVier Posey. That was only the second game the dynamic Posey played during the season because of suspensions. You know Posey will want to go out with a big game and look for Miller to try and find him early and often. OSU’s passing game ranked 117th (out of 120 teams) at 124.1 yards per game. But this team has aerial and vertical potential with Posey and Brown at full-go.

OSU’s running game was a mixed bag. The Buckeyes ended up 27th nationally at 195.7 yards per game on the ground. But TB Boom Herron was largely held in check during the three-game losing streak to end the season.

Florida boasts an athletic and rugged defense, even if there is rampant youth – seven of the 12 starters are freshmen or sophomores. That youth worked against the Gators as they faltered against top competition. Florida was 39th nationally in rushing defense (132.3 ypg), 10th in pass defense (167.3 ypg), ninth in total defense (299.6 ypg) and 25th in scoring defense (20.6 ppg). Key playmakers include MLB Jonathan Bostic and safety Matt Elam, who is all over the field.

* When Florida Has The Ball: The Florida offense almost mirrors the effectiveness of the Ohio State offense. Florida was a distant 71st in scoring (25.6 ppg) and 101st in total offense (334.2 ypg). QB John Brantley missed 2-1/2 games with injuries and struggled with ankle issues most of the year. He comes in off a dismal three-interception game in UF’s season-ending loss to Florida State.

The Gators are at the best when they get the ball into the hands of speedster Jeff Demps (last year’s NCAA indoor 60-meter champion) and shifty Chris Rainey. The goal is to get them loose on the perimeter, but that was difficult at times since Brantley and the passing game largely failed to keep defenses honest.

OSU’s defense had its worst year in over a decade, giving up 20.8 points per game (26th nationally). OSU slipped to 53rd in rushing defense at 142.4 yards per game. With starting MLB Andrew Sweat out the last two games, OSU surrendered 239 yards on the ground to Penn State and 277 rushing to Michigan. But Sweat and freshman LB Ryan Shazier should be prowling the middle to contain the run.

* How It Will Go: Both teams struggled offensively and were at least respectable defensively. This game probably comes down to which team can spark a big play or two and I like Ohio State’s ability to do that.

For starters, Miller’s mobility allows him to keep plays alive and I imagine he will be able to get the ball out to Posey, Brown and TE Jake Stoneburner, provided Stoneburner is full-go after a late-season injury. OSU will also try to establish Herron, but that could be tough sledding.

Ohio State’s defense should be back up to midseason form, when the Buckeyes defeated Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana in consecutive weeks. It helps having Shazier and Sweat full-go at linebacker. Safety Christian Bryant, also absent at Michigan, should also make an impact. If the Buckeyes can force Brantley into a turnover or two, that would be even better.

I don’t see a lot of touchdowns in this game. It will be a battle of field position and the special teams should also factor in a big way. Each side will probably have to settle for field goals at various points. But I think Ohio State avenges in some (real) small way that national title game loss to Florida and sets the tone for the next chapter in its football history. I’ve got it Ohio State 23-18

* For The Record: I am 7-5 straight-up and 6-6 against-the-spread with Ohio State this season. (Florida is a two-point favorite over Ohio State.)

More Links

Friday’s Boarding House

Highlights of Junior QB Marshall

Swan Song for veteran assistants Heacock, Bollman

Notebook: Shazier, Moeller Gearing Up

Buckeyes Get Back To Work In Florida

Stay tuned for coverage of Coach Fickell’s press conference Saturday morning. Plus more scouting reports and coverage from Jacksonville.

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