It's bowl season so there must be drama on the Florida campus.
The Gators prepare to play Penn State in the Outback Bowl knowing they will not have Urban Meyer back as head coach. Offensive coordinator and associate head coach Steve Addazio will also be leaving after the bowl game to take over as head coach at Temple. Will Muschamp will be the new man in charge next season and Addazio was unlikely to be retained.
Last year at this time, Meyer was retiring, then un-retiring to take a leave of absence. Despite the drama last season, Florida still went on to destroy Cincinnati 51-24 in the Sugar Bowl.
Florida enters this bowl game with a 7-5 record and is guaranteed to end the season with its worst record in the six-year tenure of Meyer. His previous low-water mark was a 9-4 campaign in 2007, a season that was sandwiched between a pair of BCS championships.
For Penn State, the issue is whether or not Joe Paterno will be back on the Nittany Lions' sideline next season. He turned 84 on December 21st.
Paterno is a living legend who has graced the Penn State sidelines for 61 years, the last 45 of which he as served as the head coach. He owns the most wins in NCAA major college football history (401), bowl victories (24) and appearances (36). Perhaps the one stat that says as much about Paterno's success and unprecedented longevity as any other is his bowl record of 24-11-1. Penn State's bowl record without Paterno as head coach is 3-2-1.
Like Florida, Penn State enters this game with a 7-5 record which ties for the 8th-worst record of Paterno's tenure.
The Nittany Lions defeated only two bowl teams this season, Michigan and Northwestern, though none of the five losses came against teams that failed to earn a bowl slot.
Florida beat four bowl teams - USF, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia - and, like their bowl counterpart, all of the losses came against bowl teams.
Florida is on a 2-bowl winning streak and is 4-1 in its last five bowls. The Gators are 18-19 in their bowl history.
Penn State has won 4 of its last 5 postseason contests and is 10-3 in such games since 1994.
Florida vastly underperformed the computer's preseason expectations. CollegeFootballPoll.com's Congrove Computer Rankings (a.k.a. CCR Top 120) projected the Gators to go 11-1 overall and 7-1 in the conference. They finished just 4-4 in the SEC.
Penn State was picked to go 9-3 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten, but also finished 4-4 in the conference.
The computer favors Florida to win the Outback Bowl matchup by 5.58 points. It is 8-4 in forecasting the winner of Gator games this season and 10-2 with the Nittany Lions. The computer is just 3-8 against the spread with Florida and 4-7 with Penn State. (Such information is tracked for the sole purpose of recording the computer's accuracy in picking games and ranking teams. It is not intended for gambling purposes).
Florida has won both previous meetings with Penn State, both of which came in bowl games. The teams met in the 1962 Gator Bowl and the 1997 Citrus Bowl, now known as the Capital One Bowl.
The Gators are 1-2 in Outback Bowl appearances, all of which took place between the 2002 and 2005 seasons. The Nittany Lions are 3-0 in previous Outback appearances which all took place between the 1995 and 2006 seasons.
The game will be broadcast nationally on Saturday, January 1 at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on ABC from the 65,657-seat Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, home of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.