Florida vs. Virginia: Capital One Orange Bowl fearless prediction and game preview.
Florida vs. Virginia: Capital One Orange Bowl Broadcast
Florida (10-2) vs. Virginia (9-4) Game Preview
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Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Capital One Orange Bowl
– This is the exact type of bowl matchup that occasionally goes against type. Virginia might have been destroyed by Clemson in the ACC Championship, but it got there. It’s a plucky enough team and a good enough program to come up with something big if Florida isn’t cranked up for this.
The Gators were fully-focused and razor-sharp in last year’s 41-15 obliteration of Michigan in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, but will they be just as pumped up this time around?
If both teams are playing at peak efficiency, it’s over. Florida wins this in a walk, the game is a big bag of yuck, and then it’s on to the December 31st bowls. However, Virginia pitched a perfect game against South Carolina in a 28-0 Belk Bowl win to close out last season.
It’s in Miami, Florida fans will show up to generate a decent energy, and it’s a New Year’s Six Bowl.
– The Orange Bowl is due for something good. The College Football Playoff matchup last year between Alabama and Oklahoma wasn’t without its moments, but it was still an 11-point Tide win. Florida State’s 33-32 win over Michigan in 2016 was a blast, but four of the last five games – and nine of the last 11 – have been decided by double-digits.
– Winning bowl games isn’t a regular thing for Virginia. Before last year’s Belk, the program lost three straight and four of the five previous five after winning the 2003 Continental Tire over Pitt. On the flip side, Florida has won three of its last four, seven of its last nine, and nine of its last 12 going back to the 2004 Peach.
CFN Podcast: Orange Bowl discussion, picks
Why Virginia Will Win
– Let’s just go there. Will Florida really care?
It was a fantastic season for the Gators, they powered through to finish just outside of the top five of the final College Football Playoff rankings, and it was all well and good, but … it’s not like this game actually matters.
Star CB CJ Henderson is skipping it to get ready for the NFL. Other Gators are going to go, but it’s human nature that Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard – and other top pro prospects on the team – will be thinking a wee bit about the next level going into this, especially after some were banged up throughout the year. There’s a flip side to this – more on that in a moment.
– This has to be the Bryce Perkins show. The star quarterback wasn’t miserable in the loss to Clemson – he doesn’t play defense; the wipeout wasn’t his fault – and he carried the team past Virginia Tech just to get to the ACC title game. Against South Carolina in last year’s Belk, he hit 71% of his passes for over 200 yards and three scores, and he ran for 81 yards – he needs to do that again.
The veteran threw for 250 yards or more in four of his last five games, and he has to get on the move and take anything the Gator D might give him. He ran for over 100 yards in three of his last five games, and Virginia won all three. The Cavs are 5-0 this year when he runs for 60 yards or more.
– The pass rush has to show up. It was able to generate a little bit of pressure on Trevor Lawrence, but that didn’t matter a whole lot against Clemson. Florida’s running game is just okay, and QB Kyle Trask is good at getting the ball out of his hands fast when needed, but the pass rush that generated 45 sacks on the season has to bother him early on. Give Trask time, and there’s a big problem.
Why Florida Will Win
– The Virginia offensive line is about to have a bad day. The Cavalier running game isn’t there when Bryce Perkins isn’t ripping off big dashes, and the pass protection is a big, big problem. Granted, part of that comes from Perkins trying to make something happen, but he also holds on to the ball way too long at times.
Yes, Jonathan Greenard and Jabari Zuniga have next-level careers to be worrying about – they don’t necessarily need to play in this – but they could also each use a final big performance to up their respective stocks.
Any scout worth his salt knows what these guys can do, but Zuniga missed half the season, and Greenard was banged up for stretches. They can make some money if they look the part again against this Cavalier line.
The SEC’s best pass rush is about to unleash the fury.
– This might be the Kyle Trask game. It was met with a wee bit of a scoff when Trask announced that he was coming back for his senior season, but he’s more of a pro prospect – not a top ten one, but certainly a good mid-round option – than many might think.
Overshadowed by Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm, and other good SEC quarterbacks, Trask was a bit overshadowed even though he stepped in for Feleipe Franks and was brilliant, hitting over eight yards per pass with 24 touchdown passes and just six picks.
He’s not going to make any big mistakes, he should have plenty of time to work against a Cavalier secondary that allowed over 1,000 passing yards in the last three games and over 300 yards in four of its last five.
– Florida doesn’t turn the ball over. Virginia can’t win this game without coming up with a whole slew of takeaways and winning the turnover margin battle, but that’s probably not going to happen. The Gators have lost the turnover battle just once – the loss to LSU – since the opener against Miami, and haven’t turn the ball over in three of their last four games or more than once in six of their last seven.
Against four of the better teams on the schedule – Clemson, Notre Dame, Louisville and Florida State – Virginia was -10 in turnover margin.