8. Wisconsin vs. 9. Florida
The Florida Gators have a strong case as the most underrated team in college football after the conclusion of the regular season. Their two losses on the season amidst their 10 victories came against the No. 1 ranked LSU Tigers in a game that was respectable and a hard-fought loss to rival Georgia, who finished the year as the No. 5 team in the rankings and as the SEC runners-up. Every other test, however, they passed with flying colors.
Early in the season, Florida’s Achilles heel was the limitations of their offense. However, that changed once quarterback Kyle Trask took over the offense. Since that happened, the Gators were able to find some juice on that side of the ball, proving capable to put up points against quality defenses, scoring 24 against Auburn, 28 against LSU and 17 vs. Georgia.
There’s no question that the Wisconsin Badgers defense would be able to limit the Gators to a point total somewhere in that range. And it’s hard not to have a semi-good taste in your mouth about the Badgers after they nearly upset Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. But at the same time, when you put Jack Coan against the Florida defense there’s reason to worry.
Florida’s defense has the talent to at least slow Jonathan Taylor to the degree that he would not be able to control the action and propel everything for Wisconsin. Due to that and the Gators’ improvements on offense, Florida should be able to win a tight one thanks to forcing Coan to make plays to beat them, something I don’t believe he’s capable of doing against a high-level opponent.
Winner: Florida Gators