Sugar Bowl: A Look at the Gators

Florida, who finished third in the BCS rankings, will make its ninth Sugar Bowl appearance, tied for the third-most in history. Florida is 3-5 in its eight previous Sugar Bowl appearances, which most recently included a 51-24 win over Cincinnati in the 2010 game and also included a 52-20 victory over Florida State for the 1997 National Championship (1996 season). The Gators’ first Sugar Bowl appearance was in the 1966 Sugar Bowl, a 20-18 loss to Missouri, despite an MVP-performance by quarterback Steve Spurrier.

UF has claimed a school-record four-consecutive bowls and will be making its eighth consecutive January bowl appearance, the longest active streak in the nation. In addition, the Gators will be appearing in a BCS Bowl for the seventh time, tops in the SEC and tied for the third-best total nationally. Florida’s total of five BCS Bowl wins is tied for the top total in the nation and with a victory it will have the top total in the nation in all-time BCS wins. UF will be making its 40th bowl appearance.

Will Muschamp is the only first time head coach at a BCS-conference school to win 11 regular-season games in his second season after finishing .500 or worse the previous regular season in records back to 1996. Florida improved from a 6-6 regular season in 2011 to an 11-1 regular season in 2012. The five-game turnaround in the regular season marked the biggest one-year leap for the program in 32 years (0-10-1 in 1979, 7-4 regular season in 1980).

The Gators have hung their hat on defense this season, limiting the opposition to 283.4 yards of total offense. Florida is stout against the pass as the Gators have registered 19 interceptions this season led by four from Matt Elam. The Gators have allowed 155 points this season, an average of 12.9 points per game.

On the offensive side of the ball, running back Mike Gillislee is one of the top runners in the country, averaging 92.0 yards per game, while quarterback Jeff Driskel has been solid, throwing for 1,471 yards and 11 touchdowns, while tossing just three interceptions.

Florida has punished opponents on the ground, averaging 194.5 yards per game and has tallied 21 scores on the ground.

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