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Orange Bowl bound: Gators to tangle with Virginia

December 8, 2019
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What most had predicted for weeks became official on Sunday afternoon: The Gators (10-2, 6-2 SEC) will play the No. 24 Virginia Cavaliers (9-4, 6-2 ACC) in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 30 in Miami Gardens. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m., and the game will be broadcasted by ESPN.

The College Football Playoff selection committee released its final rankings and announced the New Year’s Six bowl pairings on Sunday. Despite four teams in front of them in last week’s rankings losing on Championship Weekend, the Gators stayed put at No. 9.

Florida has played Virginia just once before, a 55-10 victory in Gainesville in 1959.

"We're looking forward to our trip to Miami to play in the Orange Bowl and a second consecutive New Year's Six bowl game,” UF coach Dan Mullen said in a statement released by the school. “Our players and staff have done a great job all year focusing on how we could get better every day, along with developing our mental and physical toughness throughout the year. We finished strong and put ourselves in a position to win 11 games.”

The Orange Bowl has been very kind to the Gators. This will be their fourth appearance in the game, with the previous three trips resulting in lopsided victories. They defeated Georgia Tech 27-12 in Steve Spurrier’s final game as a player in 1967, beat Syracuse 31-10 in 1999 and throttled Maryland 56-23 in Spurrier’s final game as UF’s coach in 2002. They also beat Oklahoma in January 2009 in the same stadium for their third national title.

"We are honored to accept a bid to play in the Orange Bowl,” Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin, a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee, said. “South Florida is an important region for our program and home for many Gators. It is rewarding to see all of the work by Coach Mullen, the staff and players pay off with a second consecutive New Year's Six bowl, and it will be a great week in Miami for our players, staff and fans."

UF played in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl last season, making this the first time since 2008-09 that they will play in marquee bowl games in consecutive seasons. It will also be the program’s 19th appearance in a bowl that is now included among the New Year’s Six.

This marks Florida’s 45th bowl appearance overall, with the Gators boasting a 23-21 record. A win would represent the Gators’ first back-to-back bowl victories since winning four straight from 2008-11.

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Orange Bowl bound: Gators to tangle with Virginia

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