The string of major bowl games begins Wednesday night with the Cotton Bowl between the No. 7 Florida Gators and the No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners are favored by five points, with an ambitious over/under of 67.5 points.
Oklahoma heads to the Cotton Bowl as one of the hottest teams in the country but are kicking themselves for their sluggish start to the season. The win over Iowa State in the Big 12 Championship Game was Oklahoma’s seventh in a row. It likely would have been enough to put the Sooners in the College Football Playoff if not for two early-season losses.
Meanwhile, the Gators head to the Cotton Bowl after losing two in a row. Florida finished the regular season with a puzzling home loss to LSU, only to bounce back with an excellent performance in the SEC Championship Game that just wasn’t good enough to beat Alabama. That should have the Gators properly motivated to avoid a three-game losing streak to close out 2020.
Florida’s toughest hurdle heading into the Cotton Bowl is that the Gators’ top receivers have all opted-out of the game to prepare for the NFL Draft. Heisman finalist Kyle Trask is still in line to play after throwing 43 touchdown passes in 11 games. However, he’ll be without his four leading receivers, making backup running back Malik Davis the team’s top receiver who’s suiting up for the game.
While Trask can overcome a lack of proven playmakers around him, the Oklahoma defense has grown by leaps and bounds during the season. The Sooners have limited five of their last six opponents to 21 points or fewer. They were particularly impressive against a high-scoring Oklahoma State team and put up plenty of resistance in the Big 12 Championship Game against Iowa State, forcing three interceptions against experienced quarterback Brock Purdy.
Roll On, Rattler
The Oklahoma offense wasn’t always an unstoppable force in 2020, but there’s no question that redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler grew up a lot during the season. Late in the year, he’s been making fewer mistakes than he did early in the season when his errors cost the Sooners late in games.
The OU running game has been solid but unspectacular this year. However, Rattler finished the season completing 68% of his passes and averaging 9.5 yards per carry, so he’s capable of creating big plays.
Meanwhile, the Florida defense has been a disaster all season. The loss to LSU is strong evidence that the Gators haven’t figured out their issues on that side of the ball. They allowed at least 35 points in five of their 11 games, struggling to put up much resistance against the better offensive teams in the SEC.
The Pick Is In
This game has all of the makings of an entertaining shootout. However, that puts the Gators at a disadvantage because of their lack of proven playmakers in the passing game and the state of their defense.
FREE PICK: Oklahoma Sooners (+5).