CollegeFootballPoll.com NOTES: Can we call this game the "Coaching Confusion Bowl"? First, Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong gets hired by Louisville on December 9. Next, Brian Kelly leaves Cincinnati for Notre Dame on December 11. Then, Urban Meyer's resignation is announced on December 26, only to be amended to an indefinite leave of absence the next day. Meyer and Strong will coach in this game for Florida, but Kelly has been replaced by offensive coordinator Jeff Quinn for Cincinnati. Oh, and by the way, we already know Quinn will leave to be Buffalo's new head coach after the bowl game and the Bearcats will welcome in Butch Jones.
Urban Meyer is in his fifth season at Florida with a record of 56-10 (.848) and in his ninth season overall with a record of 95-18 (.841). The Gators’ offensive coordinator is Steve Addazio and the defensive coordinator is Charlie Strong.
University of Cincinnati offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Jeff Quinn will coach the Bearcats in the 76th Allstate Sugar Bowl after Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame at the end of the regular season. Quinn is undefeated as a head coach (1-0), having served in an interim capacity for Central Michigan's 2006 Motor City Bowl win over Middle Tennessee. Quinn will leave after the bowl game to assume his duties as the new head coach at Buffalo. This is Quinn's third year at UC and 26th season in college football. He was recently named one of five finalists for the 2009 Broyles Award, which is given to the nation's top assistant coach. The Bearcats’ defensive coordinator is Bob Diaco.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN FLORIDA HAS THE BALL
Tim Tebow has rushed for 13 touchdowns this season, bringing him to 56 for his career. Tebow’s career rating of 168.5 currently ranks No. 1 in SEC history.
Jeff Demps paces the Gator running backs with 738 yards, seven rushing touchdowns and averaging 7.7 yards per carry, which is tied for No. 2 in the nation (min. five attempts per team game).
Florida’s receiving corps is led by Aaron Hernandez and Riley Cooper. Hernandez has 739 yards on a team-best 59 grabs along with four touchdowns. Riley Cooper has 44 receptions for team bests of 780 yards and eight touchdowns.
Cincinnati DB Aaron Webster was third on the team with 62 tackles, including 36 solo stops. He had 2.0 tackles for a loss as well as leading the team in interceptions (4), and pass breakups (5). He also forced two fumbles on the year.
DL Ricardo Mathews, in his first year as a full-time starter, led the Bearcats with 11.5 tackles for a loss. He also had 42 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and a pair of quarterback hurries.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CINCINNATI HAS THE BALL
Florida DE's Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap lead the team with seven sacks each, while LB Ryan Stamper paces the Gators with 76 tackles. Cunningham also adds 12 tackles for loss, a team high, to go with two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, six quarterback hurries and 33 total tackles (20 solo). Dunlap had 8.5 tackles for loss, six pass
breakups and 35 tackles (26 solo) on the season. Dunlap was suspended for the SEC Championship game with Alabama after an arrest for DUI, but has been reinstated for the bowl game.
CB Joe Haden, a CFP and FWAA All-American, leads the way with four interceptions.
Gator LB Brandon Spikes is the only player in the nation to have four interception return touchdowns over the past two seasons. Spikes has been credited with 62 tackles this season.
Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard is a repeat All-BIG EAST First Team pick at both wide receiver and return specialist. He has 11 TD's and 1,150 receiving yards in 2009, good for second all-time on the single-season charts, behind himself (1,276/2008). He has caught a pass in 17 straight games.
Bearcat QB Tony Pike, a second-team honoree a year ago, was 184-of-293 for 2,350 yards and 26 touchdowns. His pass efficiency rating of 155.36 ranks second in the BIG EAST and ninth nationally. He led the BIG EAST in total offense, averaging 263.1 yards per game.
Florida PK Caleb Sturgis has connected on 19-of-23 field goal attempts from 40 yards and in.
The Gators' Brandon James has 12 punt returns of 30 yards or more in his career, including four punt return touchdowns of 74-plus yards. This year, he has 756 kick return yards with a 26.07 yard average and 1 TD, and he also has 244 punt return yards for a 7.39-yard average.
Florida's Chas Henry, a 2009 finalist and 2008 semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award, has punted 33 times for a 43.4 average. Only three punts have been returned for positive yards (21 yards allowed), and 15 have been inside the 20.
Cincinnati's Gilyard is the first player to win BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons since Pittsburgh punter Andy Lee won in 2002 and 2003. Gilyard finished the regular season with 1,074 yards on 34 kickoff returns for an average of 31.6 yards per return that would stand as a BIG EAST single-season record. He
tied the conference's single-season mark with two kickoff returns for touchdowns, including a 99-yard return against Pittsburgh to spark the Bearcats' comeback from a 21-point deficit in the title-clinching game. He also returned a punt for a touchdown.
PK Jake Rogers leads the team in scoring with 96 points on 12-of-18 field goals and 60-of-62 PAT's.
Record: First Meeting
This is Cincinnati's second-straight New Years Day appearance in a Bowl Championship Series game after losing 20-7 to Virginia Tech in last year's Orange Bowl in which Pike was intercepted 4 times. The Bearcats are 5-5 overall in bowl games and are setting a school record with their 4th straight bowl appearance.
This is the 8th time this decade that Cincinnati is ending a season in a bowl game after doing so just 3 times previously from 1946-1999. Cincinnati went bowl-less from 1951-1996.
Florida head coach Urban Meyer graduated from UC in 1986, earning a football letter in 1984.
Florida holds the second-longest current bowl appearance streak at 19 games. The Gators are 17-19 overall in bowl game. Only 14 teams have appeared in more bowl games than Florida.