When the game of the Cotton Bowl between Oklahoma and Florida (December 30 at 8pm ET on ESPN/ESPN App) was announced, people remembered with emotion the collision of 2009 between these two teams in the game of the Orange Bowl and the BCS National Championship. Dan Mullen even stayed with the Gators one last time as offensive coordinator before becoming a coach in the state of Mississippi.
It was also the last time these two teams played in a national championship game.
Mullen returns to Florida as head coach and hopes that the Gators will regain their place in the national championship. Oklahoma have had their ups and downs since losing Florida in the Orange Bowl, but still haven’t won a title even after playing three straight college football qualifications for this season.
So what can we expect in the 2020 game?
It would be easy to think about the attack first, knowing what brought Lincoln Riley to the table as Oklahoma coach and how Mullen transformed the Gators into three years at the helm. But how the defenders prepare for each other can be the key.
Florida has struggled defensively throughout the year, suggesting that defense coordinator Todd Grantham will take over, although Mullen has said Grantham will coach the game. Oklahoma have made great defensive moves this year, allowing only 21.8 points per game, their lowest average since they allowed 22 points per game in 2015. And although Oklahoma is playing in the Big 12, the Sooners are still facing an attack as frustrating as Florida’s this season.
A major player for Florida: Kyle Trask. Whatever happened to the Heisman, Trask had a record-breaking season for the Gators with 4,125 yards and a school record 43 touchdowns with five interceptions. His development and attendance this season has allowed the Gators to play for the SEC championship and keep the game against Alabama closer than many had expected. It’s all the easier to cheer him up because he has become the starting quarterback of a school with three Heisman-winners. He won it all, he waited for the chance – even though at different times in his career it seemed as if it would never come.
Key player for Oklahoma: The rapid rise of defense this year under second-year coordinator Alex Grinch is largely due to the success of the defensive front with defensive targets Ronnie Perkins and Isaiah Thomas and the Perrion Winfrey nose approach. In just five games since his return from suspension, Perkins has recorded 5.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles. Thomas leads the team in both categories (eight sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss), while Winfrey has six tackles for loss. All three of them were part of the Big 12 team. Oh, and don’t forget linebacker Nick Bonitto, who has 7.5 bags and 10 tackles for loss.
National College Football Championship presented by AT&T
Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, FL)
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University Football Semi-Final at the Rose Bowl
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School soccer play-offs semi-finals in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Mercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans) 1. January: 1:08 20:00. AND about ESPN and the ESPN application.
Game to watch: Spencer Rattler versus the Florida defense. It hasn’t been a good year for the Gators, and Oklahoma will put pressure on Florida with their large-scale attack. The last question is this one: Can alligators slow down? Florida allows 258.3 yards per game, placing it in 100th place nationally, and 28.6 points per game.
X factor : No Kyle Pitts. Florida will be robbed of its biggest offensive playmaker after the group decides to withdraw and declare for NFL selection. It’s hard to blame him because he got injured at the end of the season and ruined his performance against Alabama. But without Pitts, Florida has struggled to establish consistency and the usual presence in the red zone in the loss of the USL. While the Gators have won two more games without him, the question is whether Keon Zipperer and Kemore Gamble can win again.
Motivation factor : Oklahoma has been eliminated from the school soccer play-offs for the first time since the 2017 season, while Florida has already lost two games in a row – including a heartbreaking one against Alabama in the SEC championship. However, both Riley and Mullen have excluded questions about the participation of their teams in the game. According to Mullen, it doesn’t take much motivation to want to play the game. These guys are competitors. So I think being able to play against that team in this game, and looking at the opponent you have, is the motivation you need to play.