Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl
The second bowl game on Thursday is the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl between UCF and Florida. The game is played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa and will be shown at 7 PM ET on ESPN.
UCF finished its first season under Gus Malzahn with an 8-4 record and in third place in the American Athletic Conference. The Knights are not as explosive offensively as in years past and had a bit of an adjustment period. Freshman quarterback Mikey Keene has taken over for Dillon Gabriel, who transferred to UCLA after the regular season. Keene has relied heavily on Ryan O'Keefe and Brandon Johnson in the passing game while Johnny Richardson, Isaiah Bowser, and Marc-Antony Richards lead the rushing attack.
Defensively, keep an eye on Auburn transfer Big Kat Bryant. The defensive end is an elite athlete and leads the team in sacks.
Florida had a disappointing season. After appearing in the SEC Championship game a year ago, the Gators began the year ranked No. 13 in the country and had high expectations. They started 3-1 with just a two-point loss to Alabama, but the season went south quickly after a loss to LSU. That loss dropped the Gators to 4-3 on the season and they finished their final five games with a 2-3 record.
Many assistant coaches were let go partway through the year and head coach Dan Mullen was fired at the conclusion of the regular season.
QB Emory Jones and WR Jacob Copeland will play for the Gators in this game, despite announcing intentions to enter the transfer portal.