The Athletic’s Scott Dochterman and Stewart Mandel have released their latest bowl projections. They have the Gators playing in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida on Friday, Dec. 30 against the North Carolina Tar Heels.
UNC is coming off a 36-34 victory over Wake Forest. With that win, they officially clinched the ACC Coastal division. They will take on Clemson in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 3. They are led by freshman quarterback Drake Maye, who could end up in New York as a Heisman finalist this season. If not, he could be the frontrunner for next season’s Heisman trophy.
Even if they don’t win the ACC, this season has been a tremendous success for the Tar Heels. They started off slow, especially defensively, and have been able to win close games down the stretch. They have not lost a conference game all season, with their only loss coming at the hands of Notre Dame.
The Florida Gators are coming off a 38-6 victory over South Carolina, putting their record at 6-4 and clinching bowl eligibility. Florida’s offense has found consistency over the last month, with the run game solidifying itself as one of the best in the country.
The defense has also improved all around, with the pass rush standing out since the dismissal of Brenton Cox Jr. from the team. They have not allowed a defensive TD in their last six quarters.
Their biggest test remaining is a road game against Florida State. The special Black Friday matchup will serve as the Gators’ regular-season finale.
The Tar Heels will host Georgia Tech Saturday at 5:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2. Before the Florida State game, the Gators will travel to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt in their final SEC game of the schedule. Kickoff is slated for noon EST and the game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.