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Florida vs Cincinnati Sugar Bowl Preview

Florida vs Cincinnati Prediction: Florida 34; Cincy 17

UPDATE Urban Meyer's announcement that he'll step down after the Sugar Bowl has upped our prediction of the Florida win. Tebow and the Gators will ensure Meyer goes out a winner.

Unlike the BCS National Championship Game, which looks like an easy call considering Alabama's exceptional play and Texas' not so exceptional recent play, this year's Sugar Bowl is much harder to predict.

Just looking at the names of the teams it also seems like a sleeper since it pits the Gators, winners of two of the last three BCS Championships, against a Cincinnati Bearcats team that won the universally ridiculed Big East Conference. However, there are more unknown variables in this matchup than any of the other give major bowls games and the end result will probably be closer than it currently appears.

On paper, Florida went undefeated through the vaunted SEC in the regular season and was only relegated to the Sugar Bowl after a loss to archrival Alabama.

However, that ignores some important underlying elements. First, Florida's offense, absolutely explosive in 2008 with playmakers Louis Murphy and Percy Harvin in the fold, looked anemic for much of the season. They barely eked out wins against unranked Tennessee (23-13), Arkansas (23-20), Mississippi State (29-19), and South Carolina (24-14). Their most impressive win (indeed their only impressive win and, frighteningly, only victory against a top 25 team all season) was a 13-3 victory in Baton Rouge that was hardly an offensive lesson.

In fact, when one considers Florida's opponents and margin of victory, it is somewhat astonishing that they remained number one all season and may have coasted a bit on reputation. Ultimately, the Crimson Tide flushed them down the toilet in their first major test of the season which should serve as ample warning for all of those who think the Gators will roll Cincinnati.

The problem is that Cincinnati, like the Gators, has few impressive wins to its credit. Playing in the weak Big East, its most credible victories were at home against West Virginia (24-21) and on the road against Oregon State (28-18), South Florida (34-17) and Pittsburg (45-44). Of those wins, only the Pittsburg one was against a legitimate top 10 team (like LSU) and Cincinnati had to come back from a two touchdown hole late in the fourth quarter to get the win. While this showcases grit (won the game on the road in cold and snow) it is hardly a mark of consistency.

Additionally, the Bearcats have coaching uncertainty since Brian Kelly is expected to bolt for South Bend and would then be unavailable to coach the bowl game. I wouldn't bet on a coach-less (as appears likely) Cincinnati victory over Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow and neither should you.

That said, coaching unknowns and weak scheduling aside, it is an intriguing matchup on paper. Florida's offense may have looked aweful last week but that was against Nick Saban's defense. Brian Kelly is hardly a defensive mastermind and Tebow is likely to fare far better against the Bearcats than the Tide.

On the other side, Cincinnati's offense is high scoring but lacks a Mark Ingram-esque playmaker. Carlos Dunlap should be back to bolster a defensive unit that was shaky last week but excellent in the first twelve.

In the end, I expect a Florida win, especially with Tim Tebow's determination, but it likely will be a closer game than most people think. Should be a great game. Tim Tebow's final college game.

Thanks to Paul Grossinger for this Florida vs Cincinnati preview.

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If you'd like to read other SEC Bowl Previews, check out 2009 - 2010 SEC Bowl Predictions.

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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Cincinnati will Easily Defeat Florida in the Sugar Bowl 
Cincinnati 35 Florida 20 This matchup at first blush seems to be a mismatch based upon the program’s respective histories. The Gators, led by Urban …

Afghan Gator Not rated yet
Huh you weren't even close ! The Gators absolutely dominated the Bearcats ! Never doubt the Gator Nation !

Cincinnati vs Florida Projection Not rated yet
Both of these teams have had very solid years with both contending for a national title. If Texas would have lost to Nebraska in the Big 12 Title Game …

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