Florida is set to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Outback Bowl, so here are some storylines and predictions for the Gators ahead of the game.
Florida won the SEC East for the second year in a row, but the Gators offense was woeful all season long, including in the 54-16 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. The Gators will try to use their defense to shut down Iowa as they battle in the Outback Bowl.
Here are five thoughts and predictions as the Gators take on the Hawkeyes on January 2.
Appleby Under Pressure
The loss to Alabama was a nightmare for quarterback Austin Appleby, who threw for three interceptions in the first half and was under constant pressure all night by the Crimson Tide. Iowa’s defense doesn’t give up much through the air, allowing just 199.7 passing yards per game. If the Gators want to have any success, Appleby – or Luke Del Rio who is able to come in if Appleby struggles – must be effective.
One of the ways that Appleby can be successful: finding wide receiver Antonio Callaway. He, along with Tyrie Cleveland, can stretch the field and turn short passes into big gains.
Shutting Down The Run
If the Gators can take away the ground game and force the Hawkeyes to pass, it will be a long day for Iowa. The Hawkeyes are 114th in the nation in passing yards per game, averaging just 161.3 per outing. Jalen Tabor and the rest of the Florida secondary will be salivating if Beathard has to drop back a lot.
Take A Rest, Scoreboard Operator
If these two teams play as usual, the scoreboard operator will have a lot of time to rest between scores. The Gators average 23.4 points per game, but that can be deceiving, as the defense has been able to get into the end zone a bunch. The Hawkeyes are a little better, scoring 26.8 points per game.
If this game comes down to field goals, Eddy Piniero could give the Gators an edge with his booming leg.