Gameday: Florida Gators vs. No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats – Enormous test on a national stage

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas, Shannon Spake)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS No. 1 KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: John Calipari
Record: 12-10 (5-4 SEC) Record: 22-0 (9-0 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida +8.5

COLLEGE GAMEDAY

ESPN’s College GameDay will be live from Gainesville for the fourth time in the basketball version of the program’s history – first since 2011. The Gators have been either the host or visitor at the show’s location six times prior, holding a 5-1 record in those games with a perfect 3-0 mark at home in the O’Dome. Five of those previous six contests have come against the Wildcats.

The program will have a taped portion on ESPNU at 10 a.m. followed by a live one-hour show ahead of the day of college basketball at 11 a.m. on ESPN. There will also be a live one-hour pre-game show on ESPN starting at 8 p.m.

Rece Davis hosts with Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg and Jay Williams all on set. Dan Shulman, Bilas and sideline reporter Shannon Spake will call the game. There will also be an announcer-free version of Saturday night’s contest on ESPN3.com.

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College GameDay at Florida-Kentucky on Feb. 7

ESPN College GameDay will emanate from Gainesville, Florida for the first time since 2012 – in basketball for the first time since 2009 – as the Florida Gators (11-9, 4-3 SEC) host the undefeated and top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats (20-0, 7-0 SEC) next Saturday in a showdown of fierce Southeastern Conference rivals.

The game, which is scheduled to tip at 9 p.m. and air live nationally on ESPN, will be preceded by the College GameDay program featuring host Rece Davis and analysts Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg and Jay Williams.

The two-hour ESPN show is split over the course of the day, airing live from 11 a.m. to noon as a kick-off show and returning to air one hour before tip (8 p.m.) for an hour-long pre-game show. There will also be an hour-long taped program on ESPNU at 10 a.m.

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Top 14 for 2014: Florida Gators best moments of the year

For as bad as things went for the Florida Gators at times in 2014 (see the Not Top 14 for 2014), there were more than a fair share of bright spots. From breathtaking moments and game-winning plays to winning championships and setting records, the Gators had plenty to be proud of in 2014. Check out OnlyGators.com‘s Top 14 for 2014.

14 » RARE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL UPSET

Gators women’s basketball has struggled to find relevancy but there was no question Florida had its engines running on Jan. 5 when it pulled off one of the biggest victories in program history, an 83-73 upset win over No. 6 Kentucky. The win broke a six-game losing streak for UF against UK and was head coach Amanda Butler’s first win over a top-10 ranked opponent after going 0-17 previously in such games. Florida had lost 19-straight regular-season games against top 10-ranked opponents, earning its last victory to such a team in Feb. 2006.

13 » TEBOW TIME ALL THE TIME

Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow had a life-changing 2014 after agreeing to sign a long-term broadcasting deal with ESPN. Tebow was featured on the network’s national title broadcast that season and was later assigned to the SEC Network where he served as one of three analysts for the channel’s Saturday pre-game show, SEC Nation. Tebow has drawn rave reviews throughout 2014 for his passionate opinions and consistent on-air knowledge. He also proved to be unbiased, lambasting the leadership on Florida’s offense when the team struggled during the middle of the season. One Tebow moment – a spot-on impersonation of former Gators head coach Steve Spurrier – was OnlyGators.com’s most-watched Vine with 1.3 million loops as of press time.

Tebow also closed 2014 with a brilliant on-air prediction, which you can check out below.

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SIX BITS: awards, Speights, Tebow, Beal, Wuerffel

1 » The Florida Gators football team held its annual team banquet on Saturday. Awards were handed out for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may have proven to be during the season. Below are the 2014 award winners along with some explanations and details.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Jeff Driskel, Mike Mcneely
* Third-straight year that McNeely won the award.
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Max Garcia, Mark Herndon
* Second-straight year that Herndon won the award.
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: Clay Burton, Hunter Joyer, Max Garcia, Antonio Morrison
Chris Patrick Courage Award: Alex Anzalone, Gideon Ajagbe, Andre Debose, Chaz Green, Matt Jones, Antonio Morrison, Jeremi Powell
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: R.J. Raymond, Dakota Wilson |
Defensive: Ryan Parrish | Special Teams: Garrett Stephens, Roger Dixon
* Second-straight year that Parrish won the award.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: awards, Speights, Tebow, Beal, Wuerffel

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Tim Tebow joining ABC’s Good Morning America

Still unsigned and unwanted by NFL teams entering the second week of the 2014 regular season, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow by doubling down on his television duties and joining ABC‘s Good Morning America as a regular contributor.

Already an analyst for ESPN and the SEC Network, with a prominent weekly role on the latter’s SEC Nation pre-game show, Tebow will start at ABC on Monday, Sept. 15 as GMA launches a brand new segment, “Motivate Me Mondays.”

From the ABC press release:

The first-ever college sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy will help launch GMA’s “Motivate Me Monday” series, featuring individuals and their amazing stories of triumph. Tebow will appear in studio and live on location in towns across America with a wide-range of reports that motivate and inspire.

Monday will not be Tebow’s first appearance on the program. He sat in as a guest host on Jan. 31 and joined Robin Roberts for a one-on-one interview back in 2012.

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Florida Gators basketball’s 2014-15 schedule

Florida Gators basketball’s 2014-15 schedule was officially announced on Friday when the Southeastern Conference released its full league schedule for next season.

The Gators will face at least four (but up to six) opponents who took part in the 2014 NCAA Tournament while participating in special non-conference events including the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas, SEC/Big 12 Challenge and Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, Florida.

Florida will face Georgetown in its opening Battle 4 Atlantis game. Other potential opponents over the final two rounds include Butler, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, UAB and UCLA.

UF also takes on Kansas in an SEC/Big 12 Challenge rematch in Lawrence, Kansas. Last season, the Gators took down the Jayhawks 67-61 in Gainesville.

Florida meets Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic and links up again with UConn in non-conference action for the third time in the last two seasons.

The Huskies were one of two teams to beat the Gators during the 2013-14 season, winning 65-64 on a buzzer beater in Stoors, Connecticut, on Dec. 2 and 63-53 during the Final Four in Arlington, Texas. This year, UConn travels to Gainesville.

In-state rivalry games at home against Miami (Nov. 17) and on the road at Florida State (Dec. 30) also highlight UF’s non-conference slate.

The Gators open their 18-game SEC schedule on the road at South Carolina before playing consecutive home games against Mississippi State and Auburn. Florida plays its permanent rival, Kentucky, twice this season but will also take on LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt in home-and-away games.

The Gators and Wildcats will meet twice on Saturday; the first game could wind up hosting ESPN College GameDay, while the second is the regular-season finale for both teams.

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TWO BITS: Tebow to interview Driskel, Kansas set

1 » The SEC Network on Tuesday announced that the channel will kick off with a three-hour edition of SEC Now that will feature a number of segments of interest to Florida Gators fans. Starting at 6 p.m., the show will open with an essay featuring 31 familiar Southeastern Conference voices including former Florida swimmer Dara Torres. The program will then air live from the network’s home in Charlotte, North Carolina, with Dari Nowkhah and Maria Taylor hosting the program. As part of the broadcast, SEC Now will have “live whip around reporting” from all 14 schools with former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and SEC Nation host Joe Tessitore live in Gainesville, Florida. (Tebow, of course, will serve as an analyst on SEC Nation during the season.) While on campus, Tebow will have a sit-down interview with Florida redshirt junior QB Jeff Driskel (likely taped earlier in the day). The Gators and head coach Will Muschamp will also be featured as one of three programs in all-access segments with an exclusive look at spring practice. The program will air until 9 p.m., at which point the network will debut its latest SEC Storied documentary, “The Stars are Aligned.”

If fans would like to participate in the broadcast, UF announced Wednesday that they can be a part of live shots featuring Tebow and Tessitore at 6:05 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. outside the Heavener Football Complex next to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

RELATED: First two weeks of the SEC Network’s schedule

2 » ESPN announced on Tuesday details of Florida basketball’s showdown with the Kansas Jayhawks as part of the 2014 SEC/Big 12 Challenge. UF and KU will square off on Friday, Dec. 5 at 9 p.m. in the featured game of a doubleheader set to air on ESPN. Florida took down Kansas 67-61 in the first challenge in 2013, so the Jayhawks will certainly be looking for some revenge on their home court.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, NCAA, Bates, Quinn

1 » In Charlotte, North Carolina, for the SEC Network‘s formal media day on Wednesday, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow told the Associated Press that “his agent has fielded some calls from interested NFL teams” but declined to name which ones and said no deal is currently on the horizon. ESPN, to its credit, is completely open to Tebow trading in his suit for pads and has made it clear that he can return to the network at any point if such an opportunity presents itself. “I love doing this,” Tebow said. “I want to do this for a long time. I love talking football, and I love being around it.” While behind the mic, Tebow does not plan to have any Florida bias, though he told Sports Illustrated that he will obviously always be a Gators fan.

”The important thing is that you don’t take you being a fan, your bias or your past experiences into account as far as me rooting for Florida. Obviously I’ll be a Florida fan my entire life. But when I’m evaluating teams, I’m not going to be evaluating as a fan of Florida. I’m going to be evaluating as a quarterback in the SEC, someone who grew up watching it, someone who has had a lot of experience and has been in every situation. That’s the premise I’m going to be looking from. Everybody’s going to be able to do that. It’ll be hard for Marcus [Spears] not to root for LSU, but he can do that. I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I know [Paul Finebaum] really likes Alabama. That can’t be easy for him to say. You can kind of take one hat off and put on another one and that’s your focus.

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