It’s been one disappointing year for Florida college football teams, but oddly enough, this could still end up as one of the more exciting years for bowl matchups. In the state of Florida, there are three college bowls (Gator Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl, and the Beef O’Brady Bowl) and three football teams that are bowl-eligible (UF, FSU, and FIU). Normally these three bowls are lucky to have one local team play in them, but this year, each of these Florida bowls could feature a local team.
As bowl invites don’t go out until tomorrow (and are heavily dependent on Saturday’s results), here’s a brief rundown on the current status of each of the bowls and which local team could end up where:
Gator Bowl (Jacksonville)
This is the simplest bowl situation to understand, as there are few complicating factors in play. The Gator Bowl has already stated that they would like to see a Florida Gators / Ohio State Buckeyes matchup this season, and there appears to be little in the way of stopping them. Since Florida and Ohio State both had rather mediocre seasons, the Gator Bowl (6th pick in the SEC, 5th in the Big Ten) is perfectly placed to grab both teams.
The only complicating factor is the Clemson / Virginia Tech game this Saturday night. If Virginia Tech wins the game – which they’re favored to do – Florida could get bounced up to the Chick-fil-A Bowl as an alternative to Auburn. This still seems like an unlikely possibility, but it’s one of the options that the Chick-fil-A Bowl will have to consider to keep from having the same Clemson/Auburn matchup in both their bowl game and their Kickoff Classic on New Years.
Champs Sports Bowl (Orlando)
The Florida State Seminoles could end up in the Champs Sports Bowl — the group in charge of the CSB seems to ideally want an FSU/Notre Dame matchup — but their bowl situation also hinges on the Clemson / Virginia Tech game. For Florida State to not end up in the Chik-fil-A Bowl, they need Virginia Tech to lose; otherwise the Seminoles will likely be picked to play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl instead of Clemson.
Beef O’Brady Bowl (St. Petersburg)
The FIU Golden Panthers had an impressive 2011 season, finishing at 8-4, but they aren’t guaranteed a bowl bid. They will likely get one, but their bowl status is heavily dependent on how other teams perform.
FIU fans are hoping that the cards fall right for them to be able to play in the Beef O’Brady Bowl, as it’s very close to their school and one of the largest bowls they can hope for. But for them to get into the O’Brady Bowl, though, they’ll need to have at least one of two teams lose today: UConn or Pittsburgh. The Big East has a guaranteed spot in the bowl, so FIU ideally would need both these teams to lose in their respective games to have a very good chance at getting into the Beef O’Brady Bowl. One may do it, but it’s difficult to say for sure.
Follow along with SB Nation Tampa Bay on Twitter for breaking news and updates on these bowl situations.