This is going to take some getting used to.
Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan. 2, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN2
There's something that just seems bizarre about Florida and Ohio State facing off in a bowl named after a dot-com. After all, it was just five years ago that the two were facing off in Glendale for the national championship. But that's not the only thing that seems a little bit odd between then and now; it was Urban Meyer's second year in the Swamp when that game happened.
How time flies. Meyer is now about to assume the reins of an Ohio State program that seemingly imploded in the wake of Jim Tressel's scandal-tarnished resignation and the one-year bowl ban that followed. It's not going to be easy for Meyer to rebuild the program, win or lose, and the timing of the transition means that Meyer will be out of the bowl season for at least two years.
Whether he left the Florida program in a much better place than the one he inherits in Columbus could be disputed. Despite the largely stellar recruiting rankings Meyer drew during his time in Gainesville, the fact remains that a group of players mostly put together by the last Florida head coach has gone 14-11 since the opening kickoff of the 2010 season. To say that more is expected in Florida is an understatement.
Like Meyer's closing staff in Gainesville, the new group led by Will Muschamp has failed to put together the kind of offense Florida fans expect after Steve Spurrier. At 102nd in the NCAA, Charlie Weis' only offense at Florida managed to underperform the widely-panned Steve Addazio attack of 2010, which is why you didn't see Gator fans saddened by Weis' departure for Kansas. What you think of Will Muschamp's defense depends on which metric you're using; the ninth-best total defense in the nation seems like a lofty honor, until you consider that it was the fifth-best mark in the offensively challenged SEC.
But they're facing an even worse offense and a defense that's about the same or even a little worse in comparison to the members of its conference. Ohio State will make it back to a bowl game one day, and Meyer might even be the right coach to make the Buckeyes the favorites when they return to the bowl season in the next few years. But they exit the stage for now with a loss.
Florida 17, Ohio State 3