Bowl banter: Gators hope to receive New Year’s Six Bowl invite

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Florida running back Lamical Perine picks up yardage Saturday against Florida State. [Lauren Bacho/Staff Photographer]

By Zach Abolverdi, Correspondent

Let the lobbying begin.

After finishing his first season with a 41-14 win at rival Florida State and a 9-3 record, Florida coach Dan Mullen was asked Saturday if he knows what bowl game the Gators are going to.

“I have no idea. There’s a guy in the back,” Mullen said, pointing his finger. “Oh, he runs out the door. He’s on the committee. ‘Oh, they’re talking about us with the bowl game.’ So he has to leave the room. He has to recuse himself.”

Mullen was joking, of course, about UF athletics director Scott Stricklin. He’s a member of the College Football Playoff committee and will have to leave the room next week when they discuss whether No. 11 Florida deserves a spot in one of the New Year’s Six Bowl games.

Mullen thinks the Gators have put themselves in the mix.

“That’s hard for me to say because only 12 teams get to go to those games,” he said. “I think we’ve certainly put ourselves in the conversation as one of those teams that’s right there. I think we deserve to be in the conversation for it. But you know what, there’s a lot of teams out there in the country.

“There’s a lot of games still to be played and championship games that have automatic bids that could affect it. We’ll see how it plays out. We put ourselves in a tough position back a couple weeks ago, but over the last three weeks we clawed and fought our way back to put ourselves in the conversation.”

Florida defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson wasn’t so subtle with his comments. He said the Gators should “absolutely” be one of those dozen teams and the thought of going to a New Year’s Six Bowl is constantly on his mind.

“I think about it all week,” Gardner-Johnson said, “because everybody expects us to be one of these top-tier teams. (Saturday) showed that we can play four quarters, 60 minutes, and when things go wrong we’re not going to panic. We’re going to keep fighting, and that’s what we did. … You look at it, we fought. We’ve been fighting all year.

“The Georgia game, that was a close game all the way to the fourth quarter. The Missouri game, we were still emotionally down, but we responded with South Carolina. We were down, what? 17 points? We came back and fought. Idaho, we were clicking on all cylinders. … We brought the same intensity to this game and made everybody play better.”

Bowl projections for the Gators have them pegged for the Peach Bowl on Dec. 29 or the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, 2019. They could be matched up against No. 9 Central Florida if the undefeated Knights can beat Memphis in the American Championship Game on Saturday.

“UCF? I would love to play them,” UF linebacker David Reese II said when asked about the possibility. “Just to own the state, you know. It’s a opportunity we don’t get every year. But since that opportunity might be ahead of us, we’re excited for it.

“Any where in the New Year’s Six, man. I’m excited to find out where we end up. I’m just happy to be there. … We got finals coming up, and then we’re gonna practice hard. … And we’re looking forward to a win and trying to get a great head start for next year.”

Florida will open the 2019 season in Orlando against Miami, the first game between the rivals since 2013. A matchup with UCF would give Mullen a unique three-game stretch against the other in-state powers.

But if UF doesn’t face the Knights, or even make it to a New Year’s Six Bowl, Mullen wants to make sure his players enjoy postseason play and take advantage of the extra practices.

“I’ll make sure our players enjoy the bowl game. I think that’s always huge,” Mullen said. “I love the bowl system. I think it’s a reward of the guys working hard for a great season, you know what I mean? …

“I have no idea where we’ll go. They’ll get to experience something they haven’t experienced before, go to a new location, enjoy it. We have a pretty good schedule for them. Celebrate it. The focus No. 1, though, is winning the game. Make sure we do what we need to do to win.”

27 COMMENTS

  1. It’s been good to see Zach’s columns the last month or so. He brings some great insights on both UF and the SEC with his experience the last few years. Looking forward to seeing more from him. Would like to see him get with Graham and use the next couple of “quiet” weeks to bring us up to date on the Gator recruiting efforts as the early signing date approaches next month.

    • 6 – I commented on him bashing me and others when he didn’t understand the point I was making. I didn’t say anything bad that I can think of, as I was just letting him know that there is often a gray area instead of just black and white. I haven’t seen him on since then. Also I don’t get on here as often as I would like, but I have lots of problems with my lower back, neck, knees, and both feet. It is difficult to sit for very long, so now I have explained why I don’t get on here like I want to. This has been a top notch chat room about our GATORS!!! We just need fans that chat and that don’t crack on each other whether we are joking or don’t make ourselves understood. I know I have issues at times writing something and expecting everyone to understand what I am trying to convey. I will try to make my joking more understandable and my intentions a lot more understanding. Also I have been dealing with chronic pain for over 22 years now. I take meds that allow me to function better, but there isn’t much that I can do but deal with it. I ask for no sympathy, as I have never been that type of person. I spent 14+ years in the US Army and I would do it all over again. I met Lady GATORS almost everywhere I went in Europe and Africa. I wish all American’s would have to go through the military for at least two years. It would help give direction to many that don’t know what they want out of life. Alright…I went off on a couple of tangents…sorry 6. Take it easy and keep the chats going. GO GATORS!!!

      • I think Daz has a pretty thick skin, Ed…..I’m just curious since it has been a while since he last posted, and even tho he gets under my own skin once in a while too when he really gets wound up, I really enjoy reading his thoughts.

        Hey pardner, those sound like jump injuries to me. Any involvement with the VA? Main problem of course is getting past the gate trolls, but once in the health care is really pretty decent (except for when it’s not, which is actually rare — depending on facility, of course). I know what you’re dealing with on the chronic pain however, and I know full well you’re not looking for sympathy…..just some relief without brain fog from meds. If you were in certain MOS’s for that long, there’s no doubt you’re a tough guy and suck it up…..but a little break from 24/7 sure would be nice at the same time. Shoot me a message bud, it’s easy….65 and I do it all the time, which ain’t too shabby for a couple old grunts. 😎

        • 6 – I jumped out of a C-130 and a C-141, but they were parked on our tarmac and either being loaded or unloaded…LOL. Yes I jumped intentionally to be able to say that I did jump out, but I always finish with the truth. I worked air fields, rail heads, and ports. I was the man that had to go above and beyond like a spanner weighed 150 lbs. It was supposed to be a two man lift. I would carry one on each shoulder to their destination. We used spanners to span each railcar so vehicles could be loaded or unloaded while many railcars remained attach to one another. I originally hurt my back in 1996 moving old refrigerators from the 3rd and 2nd floors of an old barracks and loading them on a truck. There were 35 of them, and I ended up moving them all by myself. I had been given two helpers, but those two together couldn’t move one with a hand truck. The reason I was injured was having to bring each fridge down some very slender stairways and it was the twisting that I did that caused my first herniated discs. It has just been a culmination of injuries and working and playing hard. So I did go to two different combat zones. In OIF, I was actually one of the first Soldiers that entered Iraq when the war started. We had to wait for the MP’s to take out two sorry tanks and then we were escorted in about a mile or so. We were put there to could vehicles as they came through the breach lane on the way to fighting. We needed to ensure no one broke down in the lane that would stop the flow of convoys. I still have a sign that I painted that reads “Welcome to Iraq.” LOL. That is the reason for breathing problems in a lot of military personnel. All of that dust was horrible. I was never wounded as I tell everyone that at the beginning they couldn’t shoot…LOL. So how do I communicate with you without boring anyone else that reads my posts? Do I just click on your name on here? I will see what I can do. GO GATORS!!!

          • That’s some history, Ed. Sign in, go to Members on right side of screen, and click on your name. That’ll bring you up to your page. click on Messages, and follow the prompts, to: @gator-6. If that fails, rub your screen three times and chant “Gator65” until he pops up…..he’ll mentor you from there!

            My specialties before I got off into Academic Medicine were Behavioral Medicine and Neuro…..the former being basically about chronic pain among other things. Long history before all that in military police, infantry, and multi-functional log, so I naturally take a more common sense approach. Retired now and don’t hit a lick at a snake, but possible I can point you in the right direction for relief.

  2. i figure a lot of people are going to shut it down somewhat between the holidays, 5 weeks between games, and the gators arent big on putting out a lot of news. plus basketball should start to get exciting soon. glad to see the season starting with miami next year. hopefully we can do more of this and less of charleston southern!

    • I was so glad when they got rid of that Miami game. To start a season and have your chance to be national champions ruined with the 1st game, I got so tired of. Not so important with the playoffs but still a loss leaves you playing uphill all season with little room for error. With Richt as coach Im not so concerned with Miami these days!

  3. Kicking nolie butt last Saturday was the pinnacle for me! We’ll get a good bowl not worried about that, and the 15 or so extra practices for our future stars. Dan has put us in a good place. And whoever we draw we have a very good chance to win and make 10 – in CDM year 1!