ESPN not confident in Florida football’s New Year’s Six chances

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“Week 0” of the college football season is now in the books, and it’s game week for the Gators ahead of their season opener against Florida Atlantic. With the entire season about to kick off, time is running out to get off final preseason predictions.

Ahead of Week 0, ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura and Mark Schlabach predicted the bowl destinations for every team, and like the USA TODAY bowl projections, they think the Gators’ streak of three-straight New Year’s Six Bowls will come to an end in 2021.

Though USA TODAY Sports’ Erick Smith had the team in the Outback Bowl, Bonagura and Schlabach both predict a more prestigious landing spot for UF. They have the team in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, though they each project different opponents.

Bonagura has the Gators playing Penn State, who they haven’t faced since the Outback Bowl after the 2010 season. Meanwhile, Schlabach predicts they will face Iowa, the same opponent USA TODAY Sorts predicted for Florida in the Outback Bowl.

UF’s last appearance in the Citrus Bowl was one it would like to forget, as it lost to Michigan 41-7 at the end of Jim McElwain’s first season in 2015. Coach Dan Mullen would hope to avoid a similar embarrassment.

Both Penn State and Iowa rank behind Florida in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll and the AP Top 25, but they’re expected to finish near the top of the Big Ten, though they aren’t receiving as much preseason hype as the likes of Ohio State, Wisconsin and Indiana.

Schlabach predicts that both Georgia and Alabama will make the College Football Playoff this year, but Bonagura just has the Crimson Tide in the field, with Georgia and Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl respectively. Meanwhile, Schlabach has the Aggies in the Sugar Bowl.

It’s clear that many in the national media expect Florida to take a step back, and with all the pieces it has to replace, it’s understandable. The Gators will hope to prove the doubters wrong and make it to their fourth-straight NY6 game.

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