Commentary

Five key Gator Bowl matchups

Florida's weaknesses all will be challenged by Ohio State on Jan. 2

Updated: December 26, 2011, 11:54 PM ET
By Michael DiRocco | GatorNation

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Here are five individual matchups to watch in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl:

Florida CBs Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins vs. Ohio State WR Devier Posey
Posey (6-foot-2, 213 pounds) has a size advantage over Riggs (5-9, 179) and Watkins (6-0, 187), but those two have been dealing with that issue all season. Posey has been suspended for all but two games, but in those two games he has caught seven passes for 124 yards and one touchdown, so the Buckeyes certainly missed him. Riggs and Watkins have combined to break up seven passes but haven't forced any turnovers.

[+] EnlargeSharrif Floyd
Kim Klement/US PresswireSophomore Sharrif Floyd played most of the 2011 season at defensive end but feels much more comfortable in the middle.
Florida DT Sharrif Floyd vs. Ohio State C Mike Brewster
Floyd is ecstatic to be playing tackle in place of the injured Dominque Easley. It's his more natural position, and he has the potential to be an All-SEC player there. The 6-3, 295-pound Floyd has been at end all season because of a lack of depth there, and he might still see time there during the game. He's quick, which is something that gave Ohio State trouble the last time these teams met. Brewster is 6-5 and 305 and has done a good job creating space in the middle. Ohio State is averaging 195.7 yards per game rushing.

Florida OT Matt Patchan vs. Ohio State DE John Simon
Simon (6-2, 270) leads the Buckeyes with 7.0 sacks and 15.0 tackles for loss. He also has broken up three passes. He's the player the Gators will have to control to have success in the passing game, especially since he'll be coming from John Brantley's blind side. Patchan (6-6, 292) has had trouble with speed rushers, and the offensive line has struggled as a whole in pass protection, giving up 23 sacks.

Florida WR Andre Debose vs. Ohio State CBs Bradley Roby and Travis Howard
Debose is the only receiver who has shown the ability to make a play on the ball. All four of his touchdown catches have been from 64 yards or longer, and all were basically on fly patterns. He's got good size (5-11, 191) and great speed. Roby (5-11, 195) and Howard (6-1, 190) are bigger corners who have combined for five interceptions. The question is, can they run with Debose?

Florida S Matt Elam vs. Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Miller (6-3, 210) is a nightmare for defenders. He's a mobile quarterback (team-high 695 yards and 7 TDs rushing) who has gotten better as a passer (997 yards, 11 TDs). His specialty is turning a broken play into a big play, mainly with his feet. Elam (5-10, 206) has to be disciplined enough not to give up on pass plays too soon, but he's also going to have to be ready to chase Miller down if he gets in the open field.

Michael DiRocco covers University of Florida sports for GatorNation. He can be reached at espndirocco@gmail.com or on Twitter @ESPNdirocco.

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