Gator Bowl likely to be Florida-Ohio State

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida has pretty much been considered a lock for the Gator Bowl, and now it appears Ohio State could be, too.

The Buckeyes’ hiring of former Florida coach Urban Meyer makes Florida-Ohio State a matchup that bowl officials may not be able to resist. The Gator Bowl will be at EverBank Field on Jan. 2 in Jacksonville, Fla.

“Sure it does [make that possibility more intriguing],” said Rick Catlett, the Gator Bowl’s President and CEO. “I think it’s already an attractive matchup anyway because of the two teams playing in the national championship game [after the 2006 season]. They both have similar records.”

This would only be the second meeting between the schools. The Gators won the other meeting 41-14 in the BCS National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 8, 2007. That capped Meyer’s second season in Gainesville and gave the school its second national championship.

There are several scenarios in which the matchup might not happen, and one depends on what the Insight.com Bowl does with its selection. This year the Insight.com Bowl gets to pick ahead of the Gator Bowl, but only after the Capital One and Outback bowls have made their selection. If all three of those bowls do not select the loser of the Big Ten Championship Game, the Gator Bowl is contractually obligated to do so -- which means it could get Michigan State, Wisconsin or Penn State.

The winner would go to the Rose Bowl, and the loser would likely be snatched up by the Capital One Bowl if it’s MSU or Wisconsin. The problem is that no bowl really wants Penn State, which means the three bowls could bypass the Nittany Lions and the Gator Bowl would have to take them.