- When: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET
- Where: Allegiant Stadium, CA
- Spread: Oregon St. (-365)
Florida and Oregon State will match up for the very first time in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday. The Beavers are looking for their first 10-win season since 2006 while Billy Napier and the Gators will try to cap off their season with a winning record. Here is my Las Vegas bowl preview and prediction.
The Gators had a rocky start under first-year head coach Billy Napier. That was expected, but probably more so than fans had hoped. The losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky were games they should have won, and an eight-win season would have looked much more impressive. Napier can help change the perception of the season by beating one of the top teams in the Pac-12. This will be Florida’s sixth ranked opponent they have faced on the year and their second Pac-12 opponent. The Gators’ most impressive win of the season came against the Pac-12’s top dog, Utah, in week one.
With starting QB Anthony Richardson forgoing the rest of the season to prepare for the NFL draft, Jack Miller III has been announced as the starter for the Gators. Miller, a transfer QB from Ohio State, was out for a chunk of the season with an injury but now earns his first career start at Florida. Additionally, offensive guard O’Cyrus Torrence will be out as he prepares for the draft. Replacing him will be 6’8 offensive tackle Kamryn Waites, who will also earn his first start with Florida.
The Gators will be nowhere near full strength and should be expected to lean heavily on RBs Trevor Etienne and Montrell Johnson. Florida’s rushing attack is one the best in the country, averaging 213.7 yards per game. The Beavers’ defense is very good against the run, so it will be an interesting battle to watch all night.
The Beavers have shown a steady amount of improvement in year five under Jonathan Smith. They finished 7-6 last year and still improved their win total despite having worse QB play this season. Last year their QB was Chance Nolan and although he remains on the roster, Ben Gulbranson has taken over as the starter. Gulbranson has thrown for 1290 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions this season.
Like Florida, the Beavers have been doing it on the ground to compensate for their passing deficiencies. They have three backs they can lean on but none better than Damien Martinez, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. As a whole the Beavers’ rushing attack ranks just below Florida, averaging 199.2 yards per game.
At a quick glance, the Beavers look like clear favorites according to their ranking and the spread favoring them by 10. However, Florida still possesses the firepower to hang around with most teams. We saw them get in shootouts with FSU, LSU, and Tennessee. Losing Anthony Richardson hurts, but the Beavers also don’t know what they will be getting with Jack Miller III, leaving the potential for a pretty close game.
I think this will be a close contest and it comes down to who wins the turnover battle and who establishes the run game. I’m picking the Beavers to win this one since they are better defensively and will have most of their normal roster participating in the game.
Oregon State 27, Florida 24