Kyle Trask

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CFT Previews: Capital One Orange Bowl

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WHO: Florida (10-2) vs. Virginia (9-4)
WHAT: The 86th Capital One Orange Bowl
WHEN: December 30 at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, FL
BUY TICKETS: Click here

THE SKINNY: The last time Florida won the Orange Bowl, Steve Spurrier was the head coach and the Gators were in the thick of the national title conversation all season long (2001). Florida may be getting closer to entering the national title conversation, and a victory in the Orange Bowl could see some momentum continue to build for the Gators in 2020.

Dan Mullen’s pass-heavy focus on offense has seen Kyle Trask come in and keep things moving with a talented group of receivers to throw to in every part of the field. Virginia’s defense was just eaten alive by Clemson in the ACC Championship Game and should be expected to cough up some big plays through the air once again against the Gators. The biggest target for Florida will be tight end Kyle Pitts. Arguably the best tight end in the nation despite what the Mackey Award had to say about it, Pitts is Florida’s leading receiver with 51 receptions for 610 yards and five touchdowns.

Virginia is merely in the game due to the ACC’s bowl agreement with the Orange Bowl guaranteeing a spot in the game for an ACC member. With Clemson off to the playoff, and now the national championship game, Virginia was the next best option to represent the conference in Miami. Don’t expect Bronco Mendenhall to be issuing any apologies for his team’s presence, though. Despite being over a two-touchdown underdog, this is a massive step in the right direction for a Virginia program that is continuing to improve over time with Mendenhall at the helm.

Virginia’s dual-threat quarterback Bryce Perkins will have a lot on his shoulders as the Gators will look to contain the impact Perkins has on the game. Florida is known to swarm quarterbacks (46.0 team sacks entering the Orange Bowl) but if Perkins can escape pressure and extend plays, Virginia will be able to move the football. How often will that happen will be the key. Over the course of a 60-minute game, it may be a little too much to ask of Perkins to give Virginia a shot to win in the end.

THE PICK: Florida 30, Virginia 16

No. 8 Georgia takes over first place in SEC East after topping No. 6 Florida

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If recent history is any indication, No. 8 Georgia (7-1, 4-1 SEC) can start making reservations in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game now. Georgia came out on top of No. 6 Florida (7-2, 4-2 SEC) in Jacksonville on Saturday, 24-17, to take over sole possession of first place in the SEC East. The winner of the Florida-Georgia game has gone on to play for the SEC championship each of the last four seasons, including the last two years by Georgia.

Jake Fromm passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs, with Lawrence Cager being the main target. Cager caught seven passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. It was Cagfer’s touchdown in the fourth quarter that helped keep Georgia ahead for good. Early in the fourth quarter, Cager worked himself into an open spot on the field as the Florida secondary lost track of him, and Cager made them pay for the defensive slip with a 52-yard touchdown to put Georgia up by two scores.

 

As expected, Georgia tried plugging away on the ground as well. D’Andre Swift carried the football 24 times for 89 yards, with a long run of 30 yards against a solid Florida defense. But Georgia’s defense was the unit really taking charge. Georgia limited Florida to 272 yards of offense and allowed just two out of nine third-down conversions (Florida was also 1-of-2 on fourth down).

The win extends Georgia’s winning streak over Florida to three games, as the Bulldogs and Gators continue to exchange three-game winning streaks. Florida won three consecutive meetings from 2008 through 2010, followed by three consecutive wins by Georgia from 2011 through 2013, with Florida returning the favor from 2014 through 2016. This was also the first game in the series decided by one score since Georgia’s 23-20 victory in 2013.

While the recent trends would suggest Georgia is heading to Atlanta, there is still some work to be done before thinking about a shot at another SEC title. Georgia is home next week to play the next biggest threat within the division, Missouri. A win against Missouri would give Georgia a tough-to-beat path to Atlanta with a one-game lead in the loss column on both the Gators and Tigers and head-to-head tiebreaker against each. The reason that is important is that Georgia also plays arguably the toughest remaining game between all three SEC East contenders. Georgia must play a road game at Auburn in two weeks. A loss at Auburn opens the door once again for Florida (and Missouri), but Georgia would still have to lose to Texas A&M at home for either Florida or Missouri to sneak to the top of the division. Missouri hosts Florida on the same day Georgia is playing at Auburn.

So, in brief, next week’s game against Missouri can pretty much wrap up the SEC East race if Georgia wins.

Florida will look to rebound next week at home against Vanderbilt. The Gators likely will have a difficult path back to a New Years Six at-large with the loss.

Georgia holding the upper hand on Florida in SEC East slugfest

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In the most important game in the SEC East, No. 8 Georgia is leading No. 6 Florida 13-3 at halftime in Jacksonville.

Jake Fromm‘s short touchdown pass to Dominick Blaylock gave Georgia a 10-0 lead late in the second quarter. Georgia running back D’Andre Swift has rushed for 56 yards on 13 carries.

Running the ball has been difficult for the Gators. Florida has been held to just nine rushing yards on eight rushing attempts by a hungry Georgia defense. Gators quarterback Kyle Trask has been taken down for a loss of 10 yards to cut into the anemic Florida rushing total.

Dan Mullen rolled the dice on the game’s opening possession by going for it on fourth-and-goal from the Georgia 40-yard line, but an incomplete pass resulted a turnover on downs by the Gators. Georgia then strung together a 16-play drive that resulted in a field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship. The scoring drive covered 47 yards over the 16 plays. Blankenship added one more field goal shortly before halftime to extend Georgia’s lead to 10 points.

No. 10 Florida drains No. 7 Auburn’s undefeated season in The Swamp

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Auburn won a game against Oregon in Texas. Auburn won a game at Texas A&M. But Auburn’s undefeated season got stuck in The Swamp. No. 10 Florida (6-0, 3-0 SEC) handed No. 7 Auburn (5-1, 2-1 SEC) a 24-13 loss fueled by the Gators defense making life tough for Auburn quarterback Bo Nix from the start of the game.

Nix completed just 11 of his 27 pass attempts for 145 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions. Nix was routinely being chased down by Florida defensive linemen in the backfield and too often was unable to make something miraculous happen to save the Tigers. A mix of freshman mistakes and luck drying up for the Tigers may have been bound to happen at some point, and Florida was there to make sure it happened.

The Gators had a scare at the quarterback position of a different kind. Kyle Trask, who passed for 234 yards and two touchdowns, left the game in the second quarter and seemed to be in immense pain and agony after being hit bya  defender in the leg at the end of the play (it wasn’t a dirty hit, just how the player was falling down while being blocked). Trask left the field and immediately went to the locker room for medical assistance, but he jogged back on the field with a brace on and returned to the game before halftime.

Auburn hung around for a while despite having a rough offensive performance (four turnovers, 269 yards of offense) but Lamical Perine put the game out of reach when the Gators running back took off for an 88-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, giving the Gators a 24-13 advantage. Perine rushed for 130 yards in the game but had to be patient for his chance to break the big play.

Florida was not without their share of mishaps though. Florida turned the football over four times, all by way of a fumble. Florida also had just four third-down conversions in 15 tries, but Auburn was a lowly 2-for-14 on third down. It wasn’t the prettiest of wins for the Gators, but it was a win over a top 10 team at the end of the day and that is all that mattered.

Now Florida gets ready for a mega matchup on the road next week. The Gators head to Baton Rouge to face No. 5 LSU. Today’s Auburn game was the first of three in four games against opponents that could be ranked in the top 10. Florida faces No. 3 Georgia on November 2 in Jacksonville.

After falling one game behind Alabama and LSU in the SEC West Division standings, Auburn will look to bounce back after a bye week when they return to action at Arkansas in two weeks.

Florida QB Kyle Trask injured in first half as Gators lead Auburn

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The No. 10 Florida Gators are down to their third-string quarterback as the Gators look to hold off No. 7 Auburn in Gainesville. Florida quarterback Kyle Trask left the game after taking a hit to his left knee in the first half. Emory Jones stepped in to take over at quarterback for the Gators. At the halftime break, Florida leads Auburn 17-13 in a battle of unbeaten SEC programs.

Trask left the game with just over 10 minutes to play in the second quarter. At the time of his departure from the game, Trask had completed 11 of 17 pass attempts for 130 yards and two touchdowns, with Florida clinging to a 14-13 lead. Although Trask was able to walk off the field on his own, he headed directly to the locker room for medical examination. Before the end of the second quarter, Trask jogged back on the field and began warming up on the Florida sideline. He was seen wearing a brace and returned to the game in the final two minutes of the first half.

Auburn’s quarterback, Bo Nix, had a tough start to the game throwing the football. Nix has completed five of his 14 passes for just 57 yards, but one of those completions was for a touchdown to bring the Tigers within one after the extra point was kicked.

Florida wasted little time getting on the board. After forcing Auburn to a 3-and-out to start the game, Trask completed a 64-yard pass to Freddie Swain for a touchdown on Florida’s second offensive snap of the game. Auburn chipped away with a couple of field goals later in the first quarter. After three consecutive turnovers by both teams combined, Florida extended its lead with a touchdown pass from Trask to Josh Hammond. Auburn had botched a punt return that was recovered by Florida, but Auburn forced and recovered a fumble by Trask just three plays later. Unable to take advantage of the turnover, Nix was picked off by Shawn Davis on the first play of the drive. The 41-yard interception return received a 15-yard bonus thanks to a personal foul penalty on Auburn.

Florida’s defense has held Auburn to fewer than 100 yards of offense after one half of play. Still, Aubrun is hanging around and within striking distance of the Gators.