Florida projected to play in Gator Bowl by ESPN ahead of 2023 season

Projecting every bowl game before a single game has been played can be a dangerous game, but it’s a task ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura and Mark Schlabach have taken off for a couple of years now.

The duo will continue to update their list throughout the season, but let the record show that Schlaback failed to include Florida as a bowl-eligible team in his preseason projections. Bonagura, on the other hand, has Florida playing North Carolina in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl on Friday, Dec. 29, in Jacksonville.

The Gators playing in the Gator Bowl might seem like a cheap pick, but it was just two years ago that UF lost UCF in the Gasparilla Bowl. Local teams draw the biggest crowds to these lesser-known bowl games, and Florida travels well within the state.

Plenty of the players have ties to the Jacksonville area, so this seems like a perfect fit. North Carolina has Heisman candidate Drake Maye at quarterback, so the matchup would draw some fans from that, too.

Schlabach’s omission of Florida in his projections stings a bit more seeing Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic on the list, but the Gators do play one of the toughest schedules in the country this season. After barely reaching six wins in each of the past two seasons, perhaps it’s not unreasonable to think that Florida fails to hit that mark.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire


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