orange bowl

Bowl Games Announced for Florida Schools

The big games pit a few unfamiliar rivals against one another

Orange Bowl

There isn’t much of a history between Florida and Virginia.

The schools met in the College World Series in 2015, the Cavaliers ousting the Gators on the way to the national championship. They’ve played in the NCAA basketball tournament twice in recent years, the Gators winning in 26-point routs both times.

But the lone football matchup between the schools was 60 years ago.

That’s about to change.

Florida (10-2, No. 9 in the College Football Playoff rankings) will face Atlantic Coast Conference runner-up Virginia (9-4, No. 24 CFP) in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30, with both teams still chasing something. For the Gators, it’s a chance at their first 11-win season since 2012. For the Cavaliers, it’s the second 10-win season in school history.

“South Florida is an important region for our program, and home for many Gators," Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said.

It’s the first Orange Bowl bid in Virginia history and the first New Year’s Six — the tag given to the Orange, Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Peach and Fiesta bowls — appearance for the Cavaliers since going to the Peach in 1998.

“Each year the bowl game quality and tier seems to be escalating, the stage that it's on seems to be escalating,” Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “So my job is to advance our program and have it match those stages at a really high level.”

It’s an uncommon matchup: The only time the schools have played in football was 1959, a 55-10 win for the Gators at Florida Field.

But there are two common opponents in 2019 — Miami and Florida State. The Gators beat Miami 24-20 and Florida State 40-17; the Cavaliers lost to the Hurricanes 17-9 and beat the Seminoles 31-24 after rallying with two touchdowns in the final 6:02.

“We're 10-2. We played a tough non-conference schedule,” said Dan Mullen, the Florida coach who became the first in school history to start his Gators career with consecutive double-digit-win seasons. “We went out to aggressively schedule two Power 5 teams non-conference. I mean, there's a lot of teams not doing that.”

Florida’s only losses were to CFP-bound and top-ranked LSU, along with SEC runner-up Georgia. Virginia lost to Notre Dame, Louisville, Miami and Saturday’s ACC championship game to Clemson in a 62-17 rout.

Sun Bowl

The Seminoles, whose 36-year bowl streak ended in 2018, were in danger of missing a second straight postseason before interim coach Odell Haggins replaced the fired Willie Taggart and won two of three to end the season. 

Arizona State takes on Florida State in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31 in El Paso, Texas. The Sun Devils were invited to the Sun Bowl for the third time in six years. They started 5-1 before losing four in a row, then upset No. 6 Oregon late in the season behind freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels. 

Mike Norvell was hired from Memphis to take over following the bowl game.

Independence Bowl

The Miami Hurricanes are headed to the Independence Bowl to face Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs pit one of Conference USA's top offenses against one of the better defenses in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Miami has won all four previous meetings but Louisiana Tech has won its past five bowl games. Louisiana Tech quarterback J'Mar Smith faces off against a defense led by linebacker Shaquille Quarterman.

Miami is 6-6 and Louisiana Tech is 9-3.

The game is pitting Manny Diaz's past against his present. The Hurricanes' coach was the Louisiana Tech defensive coordinator in 2014.

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