- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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Things should be pretty interesting between Florida (6-6) and Ohio State (6-6) in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl, aka, the Urban Meyer Bowl:
WHO TO WATCH: For Florida to win this game, quarterback John Brantley has to step up. Florida's offense has been very hard to watch since Week 4 and that's mainly because of the struggles under center. First, Brantley went down with a serious ankle injury that left him hobbled for weeks. Then, his freshmen backups did little to lead the offense. It's time for Brantley to shake his regular season struggles. He has to make good decisions and he can't fold under pressure. If Brantley can get the passing game going against a pretty talented Ohio State defense, the Gators should be able to open up a running game that was inconsistent during the second half of the season.
WHAT TO WATCH: Florida's whole offensive operation struggled, but it all generated from poor line play. The offensive line has self destructed from time to time, limiting Florida's chances to make plays for most of the year. Getting consistency up front will be key against an Ohio State defense that ranks 24th nationally. Making things more difficult for Florida's thin line is the loss of starting right tackle Matt Patchan, who will miss the Gator Bowl with an upper back injury.
WHY TO WATCH: Sure, both squads went 6-6 during the regular season and had offenses that ranked in the 100s nationally, but it wasn't long ago that both were at the top of the college football heap. Both met in the 2006 national championship game and have been to six combined BCS bowls since. This is Will Muschamp's first bowl game as a head coach, and Luke Fickell's last as Ohio State's interim head coach. Neither team has anything to lose so we can only hope to see more opening up from both offenses. Plus, Meyer will be casting a pretty big shadow over Everbank Field, so that will add some extra drama.
PREDICTION: Ohio State 20, Florida, 13. Both teams really struggled on offense this season, but the Gators' defense ranks ninth nationally, while Ohio State's is 24th. Florida should be motivated to play the Buckeyes, but even with a new man calling the offensive shots, it's hard to tell if things will be much different Monday.
4hGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough