In what will be Urban Meyer’s final game as Florida’s coach, the Gators face Penn State on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on ABC.
Here’s a quick preview of the Outback Bowl:
WHO TO WATCH: Florida quarterback John Brantley may also be playing his final game as a Gator. He’s thinking about transferring and won’t decide until after the game. It’s been a tough season for Brantley to say the least. He never seemed comfortable in the Gators’ spread offense and expects to again share the quarterback duties against Penn State with two other players -- Trey Burton and Jordan Reed. Of the three, Burton has been the designated runner at quarterback and Reed has been a little bit of both. For Brantley, it’s one last chance to throw the football with some confidence and play up to his talent level. He’s a better passer than his numbers reflect, as he enters this game with nine touchdown passes and nine interceptions.
WHAT TO WATCH: It was downright painful most of this season to watch the Gators on offense. Three different times they were held to seven or fewer points. In lopsided losses to South Carolina and Florida State in November, they managed just two offensive touchdowns. Ranked 10th in the SEC in total offense, they look to break out of their offensive doldrums against a physical Penn State defense that ranked 44th nationally in total defense. But, then, the Nittany Lions have been even worse than the Gators offensively and have struggled to score points all season. The first team to 21 points may well end up winning this game.
WHY WATCH: Penn State’s Joe Paterno just recently turned 84 and is still going strong. Meyer, 46, is calling it quits after this game, handing over the keys to the Florida program to Will Muschamp. Paterno and Meyer are unquestionably two of the giants in the coaching profession, and both have sterling postseason records. Meyer is 6-1 during his stints at Utah and Florida, including four BCS victories, while Paterno has a record 24 postseason wins.
PREDICTION: Florida 24, Penn State 13. Picking the Gators in any game at this point is dicey considering how much they’ve struggled offensively this season. But Penn State can’t score, either, and Florida should get a boost from a healthier Jeff Demps now that he’s had some time to rest his foot. In the end, the Gators will rise to the occasion and send Meyer out a winner.