On Monday, No. 9 Florida (10-2) steps into the Orange Bowl as a significant favorite over No. 24 Virginia (9-4), with FanDuel Sportsbook considering the Gators as a 14.5-point pick to win the matchup at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
The two schools will face other only for the second time. They last played each other in 1959, when Florida won 55-10.
Virginia Squashed in ACC Championship
It’s doubtful that Monday’s game will be so much one-sided. However, some are giving Virginia much of a chance in the game. The Cavaliers, unranked in the AP poll, are coming off a strong regular season, but were smashed 62-17 by No. 3 Clemson three weeks ago in the ACC Championship Game.
As reported by casino.org, Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall acknowledged after that game, his team didn’t have what it took to face Clemson; however, was hopeful that the Cavaliers would lift their game for the Orange Bowl.
Mendenhall told reporters,
“I like that opportunity, and I like it for this group, because again, we’re looking again to continue to learn, grow, and advance. So each year, the bowl game quality and tier seems to be escalating. The stage that it’s on seems to be escalating. So my job is to advance our program and have it match those stages at a really high level.”
The agreement is that at this point, Virginia is punching above its weight. The Cavaliers are a +430 underdog to Florida (-600) in the Orange Bowl on the money line, meaning gaining a victory over the Gators would be one of the major upsets of this year’s bowl season.
Florida Seeks Fourth Orange Bowl Win
Meanwhile, Florida has frequently been talked about this season, among the top teams in the country, having been held back from playoff contention mainly because there were even better teams in the SEC. The Gators lost only to No. 1 LSU – which is in the National Championship Game now – and No. 5 Georgia, while getting wins over Miami, Auburn, and Florida State, among other well-known opponents.
Ahead of the Orange Bowl, Florida head coach Dan Mullen told reporters,
“We’re 10-2. We played a tough non-conference schedule. I think we were a better team at the end of the year, so it was a very successful year. We got another game.”
The key to the game will likely be how successful Virginia’s offense can be against a tough Florida defense that held teams to just 17.3 points per game this season. Senior quarterback Bryce Perkins paces the Cavaliers offense, throwing for 3,215 yards and 18 touchdowns, while also rushing for 11 more scores during the season, making him one of the nation’s better dual-threat signal callers.
This will be a really historic season for the program if Virginia can pull off the upset victory, which has won only 10 games once before in its past, back in 1989. On the other hand, Florida is seeking its fourth win in the Orange Bowl without a loss, though 2001 was the last time they won the game.