Arlington Tx, – Ask any coach, high school, college, or professional. When you have seventeen of your players unavailable, it creates mismatches automatically and the task to take down a top ten team becomes insurmountable. That’s what the Florida Gators dealt with Wednesday evening during the 2020 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Out of the seventeen unavailable, four were the school’s top receivers, including AP All American tight end Kyle Pitts. Florida Gators’ coach Dan Mullen didn’t view Wednesday night’s game as a chore, but as a great learning experience for his younger players.
“Our young guys, I was really excited,” Mullen said after the game. “They wanted to go play in that game. They wanted to get the experience. They wanted to be on that stage.”
All of that said, the game wasn’t out of the realm of taking for Florida. After Oklahoma’s Rhamondre Stevenson fumbled, the Gators added a field goal and crawled within four halfway in the second quarter. However, the top-ranked Big 12 offense didn’t mess around after the turnover. The Sooners marched down the field in four plays capped off by a Theo Wease touchdown catch by Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler. The Oklahoma defense would string together seven straight scoreless drives, and after the Gators’ field goal, the Sooners outscored Florida 38-7. It was only the second time since 2012 that the Oklahoma Sooners allowed twenty or fewer points in a bowl game (2016 Sugar Bowl vs. Auburn).
The nation’s leading passer, Kyle Trask, entered Wednesday evening throwing only twelve interceptions in his college career at Florida. The first three drives for Florida each ended in a pick, including a pick six by Tre Norwood on Trask’s second throw of the game. Trask finished the night 16 for 28 with 158 yards and those three interceptions. It was the fewest passing yards for Trask since September 14, 2019, against Kentucky, where he only had eight completions on thirteen attempts for 126 yards (21 games in between). Emory Jones took over and completed 8 of 16 passes for 86 yards but didn’t turn the ball over.
“Yeah, obviously, it’s difficult because this isn’t the way you want to go out,” Trask said after the game. “But at the same time, you’ve got to look at the big picture,” Trask announced he would enter the upcoming NFL Draft in 2021.
On the Oklahoma offensive side, it was a fine day for Spencer Rattler. Rattler completed 14 of 23 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns. The fourteen completions went to nine different targets. The real start for the Sooners was their running attack. Oklahoma averaged just under eleven yards a carry on the night and rushed for 435 total yards. It’s an Oklahoma rushing attack that only averages 179.7 yards a game and a Florida rush defense that allowed 1,611 total rushing yards all season, entering Wednesday’s game. “We ran through tackles,” Sooner head coach Lincoln Riley said after the game. “Those were some tackles that at different times this year, we were ending up on the ground. Our guys ran aggressively. I thought the line really made them confident.”
The Oklahoma Sooners end the 2020 college football season on an eight-game winning after starting the year 1-2 and 0-2 in the Big 12. Meanwhile, a positive for Florida is that the Gators got a glimpse of their future. “For the program, I’m excited. I think the future’s really bright.” Dan Mullen said.