The Florida Gators battled all season long. From losing starting quarterback Feleipe Franks against Kentucky to battling in tight losses to LSU and Georgia, the SEC East powerhouse proved they’re not going anywhere among college football’s heavyweights.
Slotting in at No. 9 in the final College Football Playoff rankings, UF and head coach Dan Mullen earned a second-straight New Year’s Six bowl game bid and face the ACC Coastal division champion Virginia Cavaliers with a chance to win 11 games for the first time since 2012. And what better place to try and end an incredible season than at home in the Sunshine State.
Florida faces No. 22 Virginia in the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 30. Hard Rock Stadium in Miami hosts the second ever meeting between the Gators and Cavaliers — The first came in 1959 when Bob Woodruff’s Gators earned a 55-10 victory.
Suffice to say that this matchup is completely different than that first game 60 years ago.
Kyle Trask and Florida’s offense stands toe-to-toe with Virginia and All-ACC receiver/kick returner Joe Reed, so this game could ultimately come down to which defense makes a stand. For the Gators, it’ll be graduate transfer Jonathan Greenard leading the charge in his final collegiate game.
Prior to his final game, the former Louisville Cardinal is ready to give everything for the Gators football fans in Gainesville and beyond.
Florida’s Orange Bowl Hype Video
“This is our state. At the beginning of the season, we made it our mission to defend our ground. And now, we are here. Last game of the year and another chance to battle for our state. This is what we worked for all season. This is why we gave it our all day in and day out, for this opportunity.Advertisement
“This one doesn’t just mean something. It means everything, y’all. One more game, and one last ride with my brothers forever. Gators, we’re in the 305, South Beach baby.
“No more talking. Time to continue the Gator legacy. Time to do what we do one more time and defend our state.”
— Jonathan Greenard
The First-Team All-SEC pass rusher finished the regular season with 14.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks, both of which led the team. Especially with cornerback C.J. Henderson missing from the Gators defense as he prepares for the 2020 NFL Draft, getting after Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins (3,960 total yards, 18 passing touchdowns, 11 rushing TDs) will be crucial for the Gators.
The Swamp will surely miss Greenard next season, but one final go alongside running back Lamical Perine, tight end Kyle Pitts and defensive line running mate Jabari Zuniga could bring the first Orange Bowl trophy back to The Swamp since Steve Spurrier’s 2001 Gators.