Gator Bowl Preview: Ohio State Versus Florida

By Johnny Ginter on January 2, 2012 at 8:05a
17 Comments
Throwin' footballs, havin a blast
Ohio State Buckeyes Ohio State 6-6, 3-5 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 1:00 PM ET - ESPN2 —— EverBank Field Jacksonville, FL Florida Gators Florida 6-6, 3-5 SEC Roster | Schedule

Three years ago this would have been an absolutely insane matchup. Two coaches at the top of their game, both fielding freaks of nature at quarterback on the offensive side of the ball, with complementary dominant defenses... it would've been one hell of a game.

But hey, the brand is more important than the product, right? Just because Ohio State and Florida are both 6-6, a combined 6-10 in conference play, completely horrible at offense 98% of the time, and in various degrees of coaching flux doesn't mean that this won't be a complete barn burner that we'll all reflect fondly on for years to come. And actually, we'll have to, because after approximately 4:30pm EST it'll be roughly two calendar years before Ohio State will play in another bowl game.

Since we're going to be stuck in that airplane from the Langoliers for the next 24 months, the hope is that Ohio State will be able to make the most of the Gator Bowl, although that may be kind of like saying "Let's make the most out of this all day From Justin To Kelly marathon."

Honestly though, I am looking forward to this. The evolution of Braxton Miller is particularly interesting from a purely scientific standpoint, and of course there is the whole final vestiges of the Jim Tressel era being washed away in one final orgy of iso plays and half-assed draw plays. But mostly I'm excited about vicariously living the sights and sounds of beautiful Jacksonville Florida through my 32 inch Toshiba and pithy tweets from OSU beat writers about the poor food selection in the press box.

VIVA GATOR BOWL!

Opponent

The mystical journey of John Brantley, Florida QB, is a tale of sadness and woe. Brantley had the incredibly unenviable job of having to take over a position recently vacated by Tim Tebow, whose excellent college football play became as routine and expected as his future NFL awfulness. Unless you were an idiot. Anyway, even if Brantley didn't have unfair expectations placed on his shoulders, he'd still have had an incredibly disappointing four year college career. The dude only managed 10 passing TDs this year, and in his last three games against teams not named "Furman," he's averaging 132 yards passing per game.

His 9/15, 104 yard, 3 INT passing performance to close out the season against Florida State was a combination of sad and horrifying, and left backups Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel doing that "Huh? Him? Me? Him? No, I'll stay over here, you go" thing people do when they are trying to pawn off a really unpleasant task on someone else.

And really, that's what the Charlie Weis experience was during his time as Florida's offensive coordinator. We've talked about it before, but it bears repeating, Florida's offense was terrible this year. 102nd in total offense doesn't really speak to a decided schematic advantage, but then again, neither does Weis' total inability to figure out how to use Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. Both of those guys are averaging over 5 yards per carry and have speed to burn, and against OSU safeties could be a pretty big threat. But since we're basically talking about the equivalent of a three year old with a billion dollars trying to build a robot, I'm not all that worried.

Defensively Florida is much better. They rank 9th in total defense nationally, allowing just a hair under 300 yards per game. Where they stand out is in their secondary, and rank 10th nationally in that particular category. CB Cody Riggs and S Matt Elam are both very good athletes who might end up making Braxton Miller's life miserable, which is in addition to how miserable Braxton Miller sometimes makes his own life.

What's funny is that this may be the Tresselballingest gameplan that OSU has come up with in a long time. The general consensus is that Florida can be run on, but truthfully I think this is predicated on the 215 yards they gave up to South Carolina and the fact that Dominique Easley is going to be out for the game. Not sure that this is enough; as much as I'd like to think it'll be the case, running straight at this Florida line is not going to win the game for the Buckeyes.

Buckeye Breakdown

What might win the game for Ohio State is Braxton Miller. His transformation from a patchwork ugly duckling into a beautiful football throwing swan was hopefully permanent, but even if it wasn't, if he can replicate even one half of his 235 yard passing, 100 yard rushing performance against Michigan, OSU should be sitting pretty. Depending on how much leftover Christmas eggnog Jim Bollman has in his thermos, Braxton could be doing a lot of designed runs, although that's not really his bag. If Florida isn't disciplined enough to stay put when Miller takes off, he could have a field day.

He won't be throwing to Jake Stoneburner, because the dude will be recovering from getting his knee scoped, but who cares because frankly aside from a stupidly high percentage of his catches being touchdowns, you might as well get Reid Fragel in there and accomplish the same thing. The bigger matchup here will be Posey versus the Florida secondary; Posey may be the best overall athlete on the field today and if Braxton is able to connect on at least one of the bombs he missed against Michigan then it should keep them honest enough to allow Boom Herron the breathing room he hasn't been able to get since November 5th (less than 3.5 ypc in his last three games).

Time to fly

Beyond that, I really have no idea what version of the Ohio State offense will show up. I think the lynchpin here is Braxton Miller's rushing ability; how he goes, so goes the rest of the offense.

The defense is a lot healthier than it's been in a while in general, and smartly Heacock and Fickell have given Ryan Shazier the nod to start and be his usual wrecking ball self. The play of the safeties are, as usual, going to probably lead to a lot of clenched fists and a lot of frowny faces as they stumble around trying to contain the speed of Florida's WRs and RBs. Just get used to the idea of Tyler Moeller or Christian Bryant flailing once or twice at Chris Rainey like little kids jumping for candy held just out of their reach.

Thing is though, the combination of talent and an inability to use it on both sides of the field probably favors Ohio State. This time. Annnddd that is the 2011 season in a nutshell.

Prediction

In all honesty, we're going to miss this. Or, at least, the good version of this. What I'm trying to say is that should Ohio State win this game, it'll cause us to reminisce fondly about how efficient and Swiss watch-like a Jim Tressel staff gameplan could be. If Ohio State loses, we'll all just be chomping at the bit all the more to get the current guard out of here. But I think that it's important for us to remember that when it worked, it really, really worked. Credit needs to go to both Jims, Heacock (a lot) and Bollman (uh... well, he was there) for helping to bring us ten plus years of awesome, awesome football.

Three and a half more hours and we'll be through the looking glass, people. Tresselball is dead. Long live Urbanball.

Ohio State 24, Florida 20

17 Comments

Comments

tedglover's picture

"But I think that it's important for us to remember that when it worked, it really, really worked. Credit needs to go to both Jims, Heacock (a lot) and Bollman (uh... well, he was there) for helping to bring us ten plus years of awesome, awesome football."

--Well said.  The ending of an era is always sad, and it usually encompasses some sort of rebuilding.  I don't think we'll have to go through that.  I'm glad we got Urban.

slippy's picture

Yea.  And for as much crap as this fanbase gives to coach Bolls how easily they forget '06, last year's record setting team, and the '02 national championship with a pretty terrible qb.

jack's picture

I made this my highest rated game in your pool, and I chose the Buckeyes.

 

Go Bucks!!!

AltaBuck's picture

So Jack...does watching Bronco games these days remind you of a certain coaching style?

I have been known on occasion to howl at the moon. - Crash Davis

AltaBuck's picture

50s and windy (15-20 mph). That bodes well for the Bucks.

I have been known on occasion to howl at the moon. - Crash Davis

Bucksfan's picture

As long as we have 3rd and shorts instead of 3rd and 12s, we'll be alright.  Can't play like we did all year and expect to win.  Have to be a different team...a much better team.

Colin's picture

Finally, some FOOTBAW!

Idaho Helga's picture

Good morning. Anybody besides me kinda disappointed that there will be 4 big 10 games on at once?  Obviously watching the Bucks but would have liked to watch the MSU and NE game too. Cursed big-10-hating-programming-network-gods!.  Don't care too much about the PSU game. I think Houston will smoke them.

 

 

thatlillefty's picture

i would pefer the games spaced out but Jim Delaney believes playing on New Years (or Jan 2 in this case) is good exposure for the conference.

Peter Pete Peterson's picture

Hour and a half, can't wait! GO BUCKS!

Peter "Pete" Peterson

gbm's picture

I'm oversees, any streaming sites available?

gbm's picture

Unable to stream espn over here do to internet service providers blah blah something something. Anyone else have any sites?

thatlillefty's picture

you might be SOL... your best option might be to follow the espn game convos. I'm still relatively new to this site so I don't know how helpful the 11W thread will be.

gbm's picture

Ok thanks, was guessing as much,

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

LET'S GO BUCKEYES!!!!  Put this season to rest with on a high note and crush the Gators!!! 

To the coaches that will not be back - thank you for your efforts all these years!  Jim Bollman - I will not miss you as an offensive coordinator.

Urban - welcome to the party!!!!

 

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

baddogmaine's picture

There has been a bit of a debate in 11W . . . All right, me against everyone else, with me saying that if there had been *any* chance that not bowling in 2012 (now) would have prevented a ban in 2013 (Year of the Meyer #1) we should have said no thank you to the Gators. An argument was made that winning today wil help our recruiting in FL. While many people pick us to win I have yet to see a prediction of us dominating. So, before this starts, if this is a one to four point Buckeye victory over a 6-6 team will that be enough of a boost to us in any way  to outweigh the real risks that we could a) lose and end up with a losing record, b) win but look so bad doing it that we impress no one, or c) find out through a grapevine that had we self-penalized this year we would have been permitted to bowl next year?

 

In other words, before we see how well/ poorly we do on the field is there a concensus that playing today is a good idea? I know the game is on so we may as well like it, but if we had the power to reverse time how many would still yes HELL YES, BRING ON FLORIDA and how many would choose to skip this year because it's a low-reward situation for us and that skipping this year *might* allow us to bowl next year is enough of a chance to pass on a low-reward for a possibly high-reward?

I vote to skip the Garor Bowl now in the realistic hope that we would be permitted to and qualify for the Rose or better next year. No guarantee, but definitely in the realm of the possible.