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Seven college football bowl game matchups we’d like to see

The Florida Gators against Miami, again? Jimbo Fisher vs. Florida State?
Miami Hurricanes running back DeeJay Dallas (13) carries during the second quarter of the game at Camping World Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Orlando. [MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Nov. 21
Updated Nov. 21

As college football’s regular season nears its end, it’s time to start looking ahead to bowl season.

Instead of typical projections, we’re doing something different: What (at least semi-plausible) matchups would we like to see the most?

Florida vs. Miami, Orange Bowl

Miami quarterback Tate Martell (18) shoves Florida defensive back CJ Henderson (1) during the fourth quarter of the season opener in Orlando. [MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times]

The first one was awful to watch, but both teams have made significant strides since the Week 0 calamity at Camping World Stadium. A trip to the Orange Bowl is likely for the Gators if two SEC teams make the College Football Playoff and a third (probably Georgia/Alabama) takes the Sugar Bowl spot. In that case, UF is headed to Hard Rock Stadium to face someone from the ACC. That league’s non-Clemson also-rans aren’t particularly exciting, so a rematch with the semi-rival Hurricanes is probably the best matchup UF fans can expect.

RELATED: Meet the Florida fans who sent get-well cards to Feleipe Franks

Florida State vs. Texas A&M, Music City Bowl

Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher walks the sideline against Arkansas during on Sept. 28. Texas A&M won 31-27. [RON JENKINS | AP]

Eventually, Jimbo Fisher should face the team he bolted before the final game of the 2017 season. This would be a great time, as some of the players he recruited are still with the Seminoles and he might have to coach against Odell Haggins, who replaced Fisher (in an interim role) two years ago. Jacksonville or Shreveport would be more fitting backdrops, but Nashville is the most likely option for a Fisher-FSU showdown.

RELATED: Point-counterpoint: Should FSU promote Odell Haggins from interim coach?

Florida vs. Memphis, Cotton Bowl

Memphis coach Mike Norvell watches as players warm up before the start of a game against SMU on Nov. 2 in Memphis, Tenn. [MARK HUMPHREY | AP]

This one has the added perk of being probable, not just possible. If only one SEC team makes the playoff, UF probably gets an at-large spot in the New Year’s Six here against the top champion from the Group of Five. If that’s Memphis, UF fans should be in for a fun matchup. The Tigers have a top-10 scoring offense and an exciting running back, Kenneth Gainwell, plus a mediocre defense the Gators should exploit. What better way to end the season than a shootout in Texas? Bonus points if FSU ends up hiring Memphis coach Mike Norvell.

RELATED: Kirk Herbstreit has three criteria for FSU’s next coach. Who checks those boxes?

FSU vs. Kentucky, Gator Bowl

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops signals to players during the first half of a game against Tennessee on Nov. 9. [BRYAN WOOLSTON | AP]

Hurricane Dorian forced the Seminoles’ to move their opener from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, so ending the season at TIAA Bank Field would be a nice consolation prize for the city and fan base. We chose Kentucky as the opponent because of the possibility Mark Stoops ends up as the Seminoles’ head coach.

RELATED: ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit: Mark Stoops obvious name for FSU job

Indiana or Minnesota in the Outback Bowl

Indiana coach Tom Allen interacts with wide receiver Whop Philyor during the second half of a game against Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., on Oct. 26. [NATI HARNIK | AP]

No feasible SEC candidate is especially enticing, so we’ll ignore that part of the matchup and focus on the Big Ten. Indiana coach Tom Allen began his coaching career at now-defunct Temple Heights Christian, so this would be a homecoming for him and a handful of his Hoosiers. Gophers coach P.J. Fleck previously coached at Raymond James Stadium as a Bucs assistant under Greg Schiano in 2012. Both have entertaining teams in the middle of excellent seasons.

RELATED: Trio of Big Ten teams with Tampa Bay rooting interests

UCF vs. Florida Atlantic, Gasparilla Bowl

In this Sept. 9, 2017, file photo, Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin gestures from the sidelines during a game against Wisconsin.

It’s never boring when Lane Kiffin comes to town. Let’s have him face a good (but not great) UCF team in what would be a high-scoring matchup of two in-state teams.

FSU vs. Central Michigan, Quick Lane Bowl

Then-Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher meets then Florida coach Jim McElwain at midfield following Florida State's victory in 2015.

The ACC has a tie-in to Detroit, so FSU could go here. The other bid goes to the Big Ten, which may or may not have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill this spot. If not, the Banner Society’s Jason Kirk submitted Central Michigan as a potential replacement, and we’re here for it. Jim McElwain has done a nice job in his first season as the Chippewas’ coach, turning Central Michigan from 1-11 to 7-4. He never beat the Seminoles when he coached the Gators. Wouldn’t it be something if he finally got his win over FSU while leading a MAC team?

RELATED: Why Utah should be the College Football Playoff’s darling

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Running back DeeJay Dallas (13) and Miami will spend bowl season in Shreveport, La., for the Independence Bowl. MARK WALLHEISER  |  AP
    Starting Dec. 20, there is almost a full month of couch potato fun ahead if you love college football.
  2. Florida coach Dan Mullen has led the Gators to consecutive New Year's Six bowl appearances. JEFF ROBERSON  |  AP
    This will be UF’s first Orange appearance since Steve Spurrier’s final game
  3. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron celebrates after the Southeastern Conference championship against Georgia on in Atlanta. LSU won 37-10. JOHN AMIS  |  AP
    LSU slides up to No. 1 in the final rankings of the season.
  4. Florida guard Ques Glover tries to drive on Butler forward Bryce Golden during the first half in Indianapolis on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. MICHAEL CONROY  |  AP
    UF sees its four-game winning streak come to an end on the road.
  5. Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin celebrates his team's final touchdown in its victory over UAB in the Conference USA championship game on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Boca Raton. MIKE STOCKER  |  AP
    After leading the Owls to victory in the Conference USA title game on Saturday, the coach announces he’s leaving for the Rebels.
  6. Florida Gators defensive back CJ Henderson wags his finger after breaking up a pass during a game against Miami in August at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Henderson is forgoing his senior season, entering the NFL draft and skipping the team’s bowl game. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Henderson’s elite speed could help his draft stock. His interview skills could be another story.
  7. In this 2007 file photo, coach Billy Donovan cuts down the net after Florida defeated South Carolina to win at least a share of the SEC regular-season championship. BRIAN CASSELLA  |  St. Petersburg Times
    The formal introduction will take place on Feb. 15.
  8. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron and the Tigers face Georgia in the SEC Championship game at 4 p.m. Saturday in Atlanta. MATTHEW HINTON  |  AP
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  9. Florida's Kerry Blackshear drives on Xavier's Jason Carter during the second half of the Charleston Classic title game on Nov. 24, 2019, in Charleston, S.C. MIC SMITH  |  AP
    UF goes on the road Saturday in hopes of extending its four-game winning streak, but it faces a tough test in Indianapolis.
  10. Memphis head coach Mike Norvell runs onto the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game against USF on Nov. 23. CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP
    Mike Norvell and Jim McElwain are coaches to watch this weekend. And who should the Florida Gators want to win?
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