1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Gators

Florida Gators to face Virginia in Orange Bowl

This will be UF’s first Orange appearance since Steve Spurrier’s final game
Florida coach Dan Mullen has led the Gators to consecutive New Year's Six bowl appearances. [JEFF ROBERSON  |  AP]
Florida coach Dan Mullen has led the Gators to consecutive New Year's Six bowl appearances. [JEFF ROBERSON | AP]
Published Dec. 8, 2019
Updated Dec. 8, 2019

Roughly three hours after FSU formally trumpeted the commencement of the Mike Norvell era, the state’s current standard bearer to the east had reason to toot its own figurative horn.

For the second straight year, Florida has a date in a New Year’s Six bowl.

The No. 6 Gators (10-2) will face ACC runnerup Virginia (9-4) in the Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Dec. 30. The Sugar seemed in play for UF after Georgia’s humbling 37-10 loss to LSU in the SEC title game, but the Bulldogs (fifth) still finished ahead of UF (ninth) in the final College Football Playoff standings.

Nonetheless, Florida’s strength of schedule (29th per Jeff Sagarin) ultimately paid dividends, and that 24-13 win against Auburn on Oct. 5 has arguably a brighter sparkle two months later. The Gators’ only losses were to Georgia and top-ranked LSU.

“We’re 10-2. We played a tough non-conference schedule,” said Dan Mullen, the first coach to start his UF career with consecutive double-digit winning seasons. “We went out to aggressively schedule two Power-Five teams (Miami, FSU) non-conference. I mean, there’s a lot of teams not doing that.”

Florida has appeared in three previous Orange Bowls, winning all three, but hasn’t played in the game since a 56-23 embarrassment of Maryland in Steve Spurrier’s last game as Gators coach on Jan. 2, 2002.

Additionally, the Gators won the 2008 BCS national title against Oklahoma at the Orange Bowl site (then known as Dolphin Stadium) on Jan. 8, 2009.

They haven’t faced Virginia since a 55-10 rout of the Cavaliers in 1959, when Spurrier was 14. The Cavaliers, who never have played in the Orange Bowl, are coming off a 62-17 loss to Clemson in Saturday night’s ACC title game.

Like Florida, they topped FSU in the regular season, but lost 17-9 to Miami, their only other common foe with UF. The Gators defeated the ’Canes, 24-20, in Week Zero in Orlando.

“That (ACC title game) wasn’t us,” Virginia wide receiver Hasise Dubois said. “That was us playing, but we’re a better team than we showed.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.


  1. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow holds the national championship trophy as safety Grant Delpit looks on after the Tigers beat Clemson 42-25 on Jan. 13 in New Orleans. [GERALD HERBERT  |  AP]
    The LSU Tigers faced five top-seven defenses, averaging 38 points against them.
  2. Coach Mike White has Florida come off a big home win over Auburn on Saturday and lose 84-82 at LSU three days later. [MATT STAMEY  |  AP]
    Video review shows time ran out just before Florida’s tying layup.
  3. Florida head coach Dan Mullen celebrates after the Orange Bowl NCAA college football game against Virginia, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Florida won 36-28. [BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP]
    Defensive tackle signee Gervon Dexter has earned his fifth star.
  4. Florida forward Omar Payne (5) runs up court after making a shot against Auburn during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla. Payne was a perfect 9 for 9 shooting during the game. [MATT STAMEY  |  AP]
    Previewing the Gators’ 7 p.m game at LSU on Tuesday.
  5. IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR ALLSTATE - Tim Tebow and fiancé Demi Nel-Peters volunteer together alongside Allstate volunteers at a community service project to benefit the Einstein Charter School ahead of the 2020 Allstate Sugar Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, in New Orleans. (Cheryl Gerber/AP Images for Allstate) [CHERYL GERBER  |  AP]
    The former quarterback and current Mets minor leaguer previously said he planned to remain a virgin until marriage.
  6. Kentucky Wildcats linebacker Josh Allen (41) takes aim for Florida Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) during a 2018 game. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The grad transfer will be eligible immediately.
  7. Auburn center Austin Wiley guards Florida forward Omar Payne during the first half of their game on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, in Gainesville. Payne, a freshman out of Montverde Academy, finishes with a career-high 19 points and 11 rebounds for his first double double in college. [MATT STAMEY  |  AP]
    Freshman Omar Payne has a career-high 19 points and 11 rebounds as UF earns its most impressive victory of the season.
  8. Florida's Keyontae Johnson, shown here scoring against Arkansas in last season's SEC tournament, is averaging 13 points and 6.8 rebounds this season. [MARK HUMPHREY  |  AP]
    UF looks for an elite win Saturday at home, where it has won five in row, to help strengthen its NCAA Tournament resume.
  9. Florida guard Andrew Nembhard shoots over Mississippi guard Devontae Shuler during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Gainesville. [BRAD MCCLENNY  |  AP]
    Coach Mike White says his point guard missed practice Thursday and Friday. If he’s out, freshmen Tre Mann or Ques Glover likely will start Saturday.
  10. Todd Monken spent two seasons in Tampa Bay, the last as offensive coordinator, before being dismissed along with the rest of head coach Dirk Koetter's staff after the 2018 season.
    Tampa Bay’s former play-caller will be designing game plans for the Bulldogs against the Florida Gators next season.