Cotton Bowl 2020: Florida Gators to play Oklahoma Sooners

Special to

For the third consecutive season to start his tenure as head coach at Florida, the Dan Mullen-led Gators received a berth in a New Year's Six bowl Sunday.

The No. 7 (CFP rankings) Gators (8-3) will play No. 6 Oklahoma (8-2) in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, at 8 p.m. Dec. 30 on ESPN.

“That's why guys go to Florida and Oklahoma, to play in big-time games,” Gators coach Dan Mullen said Sunday, hours after coming of a 52-46 loss to No. 1 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. “This has been such a trying, crazy year for everybody. But it's awesome for these young men, that both schools, they've been able to persevere to get to this point, and finish out the season playing in this type of a game.”

Going pro:Kyle Pitts to forego bowl game, senior season to prepare for NFL draft

SEC Championship:Gators can’t overcome slow start vs. Alabama

Abolverdi's answers:Gators commit costly fumbles in shootout

Florida is playing Oklahoma for only the second time in school history. The first meeting came in the 2008 national championship game, a 24-14 Florida win in Mullen's last game as offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer. Mullen had already accepted the head coaching job at Mississippi State but stayed on to help the Gators win their third national title and second in three years.

“We've had some pretty good memories over the last several years. Now is that going to make a difference in this game? I doubt it," Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “It's just going to be two good football teams going at it, like it should be. ... I guess if you've got to choose, having some good memories there is a good place to start."

The Sooners  ended a three-year run of making the College Football Playoff even after winning another Big 12 title with a 27-21 win Saturday over Iowa State at AT&T Stadium, the home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. 

Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) throws against Iowa State during the first half of the the Big 12 Conference championship game Saturday in Arlington, Texas.

Oklahoma is in the Cotton Bowl for only the third time, its first since a 41-13 loss to Texas A&M on Jan. 4, 2013. That was 11 years after the Sooners beat Arkansas when that bowl was still played in its namesake stadium near downtown Dallas.

Both the Gators and Sooners score just more than 41 points a game with big-play offenses. Florida averages 509 total yards a game, and Oklahoma about 476.

The Cotton Bowl will be played two days before Alabama faces No. 4 Notre Dame at AT&T Stadium in a CFP semifinal originally scheduled to serve as the 107th Rose Bowl in Pasadena. That game on Jan. 1 was moved, ostensibly based on the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the Los Angeles area, but also the ban on fans at spectator sports in California.

Riley is 44-8 in his four seasons as Oklahoma's head coach. Mullen is 29-8 in three seasons with the Gators since returning after nine seasons at Mississippi State.

Redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler, the fourth different quarterback for the Sooners to win a Big 12 title the past four seasons, has thrown for 278 yards per game. His 25 touchdowns are the most for a freshman QB and he has thrown seven interceptions.

Florida senior quarterback Kyle Trask is the NCAA's top passer at 375 yards per game with 43 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He will be without standout tight end Kyle Pitts in the Cotton Bowl, but will still have senior receivers Kadarius Toney (70 catches, 984 yards, 10 TDs) and Trevon Grimes (38 catches, 589 yards, 9 TDs).

Pitts announced he is turning pro and won't play in the Cotton Bowl. The 6-foot-6 junior had seven catches for 129 yards and a touchdown in the SEC title game, and caught 43 passes for 770 yards and a team-high 12 touchdowns in his eight games this season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Up next

What: Cotton Bowl

Who: Florida (8-3) vs. Oklahoma (8-2)

When: 8 p.m. Dec. 30


Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850