Will the Gators make the New Year’s Six? Here’s what USA TODAY Sports thinks

·2 min read

Florida is yet to make the College Football Playoff field since the system was instituted for the 2014 season. But since hiring Dan Mullen in 2018, the team has made it to a New Year’s Six Bowl in each of the last three seasons. The Gators captured Peach and Orange Bowl titles in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and it lost in the Cotton Bowl last year.

With this UF team having to replace contributors on both sides of the ball, making a return to the NY6 will be no easy task. And in his bowl projections ahead of the 2021 season, USA TODAY’s Erick Smith predicts a fairly disappointing bowl matchup for the Gators.

Smith has the team facing Iowa in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on Jan. 1, 2022. It would be Florida’s first trip to the Outback Bowl since the 2016 season, when it defeated the Hawkeyes 30-3. The teams had faced two times before that, both times occurring in the Outback Bowl, as well. Iowa won the matchup for the 2003 season, while Florida won for the 2005 year.

Alabama will make a playoff return in 2021, according to Smith, while Georgia and Texas A&M occupy slots in the NY6. He also has the Crimson Tide facing Oklahoma in the national title game.

Smith’s projection would certainly be a disappointment for the Gators, but it’s definitely a possibility, especially if the team finishes with a worse record than the Aggies and Bulldogs. It’s a relatively manageable schedule for UF, but it still features very difficult games against ‘Bama and UGA.

Florida will hope to prove Smith wrong and return to its fourth-straight New Year’s Six Bowl in 2021.

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