Abolverdi's analysis: Florida’s opt-outs not a recipe for success

Zach Abolverdi
Gainesville Sun

After back-to-back years with double-digit wins, Florida is trying to avoid its first four-loss season under coach Dan Mullen in the Cotton Bowl. 

The Gators are facing their fourth top-10 team this season in No. 6 Oklahoma, which just missed the cut on what would have been the program's fourth consecutive College Football Playoff appearance. 

Both teams have a starting cornerback skipping the bowl game for the NFL draft (Oklahoma’s Tre Brown and Florida’s Marco Wilson), but UF has three more opt-outs on the offensive side of the ball in Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes. 

And with wideout Jacob Copeland sidelined due to COVID-19, it’s hard to imagine those four absences not taking a toll on Florida’s top-ranked passing attack.

To make matters more difficult, the Gators are going up against the nation’s third-best rushing defense. Quarterback Kyle Trask is not only without his top four receiving targets, but he can’t count on the ground game to be more productive with the Sooners’ stout defensive front.

With UF also missing two secondary starters (injured safety Shawn Davis is still out) against quarterback Spencer Rattler and Oklahoma’s high-scoring offense, that’s not a recipe for success. 

Florida, initially listed as a two-point favorite, is now a 2.5-pount underdog after Monday’s news. I’m surprised the line didn’t change more. 

Both offenses are averaging just under 42 points per game, though don’t expect the Gators to hit that mark in this matchup. Their offense will take a notable hit with the opt-outs and leave some points on the field. 

Trask should still put up numbers through the air, but he’ll miss Pitts and his other playmakers on third down and in the red zone. UF really needs Justin Shorter to step up Wednesday night. 

UF’s defense won’t give up 50-plus points like it did in the SEC title game, but it could be another long night vs. the Sooners. They’re capable of scoring in a hurry and will capitalize when Florida’s offensive drives stall out.   

Prediction: Oklahoma 38, Florida 31.