Florida vs. Virginia, Orange Bowl 2019: Pick, prediction, odds, line, time, TV, watch live stream

By Adam Silverstein
December 30, 2019
Florida vs. Virginia, Orange Bowl 2019: Pick, prediction, odds, line, time, TV, watch live stream

Image Credit: Michael Nash

Entering their second straight New Year’s Six game, the No. 9 Florida Gators have victory on their minds Monday night in front of what should be a partisan crowd in the Sunshine State. The team’s continued resurgence under head coach Dan Mullen will meet a formidable test, even if that does not appear to be the case based on the betting line.

Bronco Mendenhall has the No. 24 Virginia Cavaliers improving year by year, and with time off to prepare, Mendenhall has been terrific as a coach over the course of his career. Nevertheless, the Gators enter will enter Hard Rock Stadium more talented across the board and with an advantage in nearly every phase of the game.

What will go down in the 2019 Orange Bowl? Let’s find out with plenty of information, notes, analysis and a game prediction for Florida vs. Virginia. Keep on reading for a full against-the-spread breakdown below.

Viewing information

Date: Monday, Dec. 30 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Hard Rock Stadium — Miami Gardens, Florida [65,326]

TV: ESPN (Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay, Molly McGrath)
Live stream: WatchESPN.com | SiriusXM: 135/190 | Radio: WRUF, TuneIn
Live updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Tale of the tape

No. 9 Florida GatorsVirginia Cavaliers
Head coachDan MullenBronco Mendenhall
Record10-2 (6-2)9-4 (6-2)

Injuries and absences

Probable (3): DE Jabari Zuniga (ankle), WR Freddie Swain (knee), LB Amari Burney (knee)
Questionable (1): DL Marlon Dunlap (undisclosed)
Out for season (5): QB Feleipe Franks (ankle), CB C.J. McWilliams (Achilles), LB David Reese (Achilles), LB Jeremiah Moon (foot), DL Elijah Conliffe (leg)
Skipping (1): CB CJ Henderson (declared for NFL Draft)

Game notes

» Florida is 1-0 all-time against Virginia, winning the teams’ lone meeting 55-10 in 1959. UF is 23-21 all-time in bowl games, 16-8 in the Sunshine State and 18-18 against ranked opponents.
» The Gators are 3-0 all-time in the Orange Bowl and are appearing in the event for the first time since the 2002 game at the conclusion of the 2001 season. Florida has won Orange Bowls by an average of 23.0 points.
» The Orange Bowl now takes place in Hard Rock Stadium, the same venue that hosted the 2009 BCS Championship game that Florida won 24-14 over Oklahoma to capture its third national title. UF is 2-1 all-time in the stadium, losing a road game to Miami in 2013.
» The Gators are playing in consecutive New Year’s Six bowls for the first time since the 2008-09 and are again looking to win both games in as many years. UF only played in one top-level bowl game from 2010-17.
» Mullen is 6-2 in bowl games as a head coach, 1-0 at Florida.
» Florida defeated Miami and Florida State in the same season for the first time since 2008 and its looking for its third win over an ACC team in 2019. UF has only played three ACC teams in a single season once before (1975).
» Virginia is the first team to play all three major Sunshine State teams in the same season since 1984 (Auburn). UVA is currently 1-1 after defeating FSU but falling to UM.

» The Gators finished a season undefeated in The Swamp for the first time since 2016, third time this decade and 14th time in program history.
» Florida began a season 6-0 for the first time since 2015. LSU ended both undefeated starts for the Gators in Tiger Stadium. They had won 10 straight games for the first time since 2011-12 and did so by a combined 339-96.
» UF has outscored opponents 253-85 in the second half and 114-29 in the fourth quarter this season.
» Florida is 4-3 against ranked opponents under Mullen (3-3 against top 10 teams), beating three ranked teams in a single season in 2018 for the first time since 2012. It is 15-2 against unranked teams under Mullen.
» UF has registered back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in a decade (2008-09) and is looking to win 11 games in a single season for the first time since 2012.
» They Gators are also looking to finish inside the top 10 in back-to-back year-end polls for the first time since 2008-09.
» Mullen is only the third Florida coach to win 10+ games in back-to-back seasons (Steve Spurrier, Urban Meyer) but the first to do so in his first two years.
» Under Mullen, the Gators are 14-0 when scoring first, 16-0 when leading after the third quarter, 15-0 when allowing 20 points or fewer, 5-1 in games decided by fewer than 10 points and 16-0 when outrushing their opponent.
» Florida has scored 101 offensive touchdowns in 25 games under Mullen. It scored 93 in 38 games from 2015-17.
» Mullen is 4-2-1 against the spread as an underdog at UF.
» Florida had scored 24+ points in 12 straight games for the first time since doing so in 24 consecutive contests from 2007-09. That streak fell earlier this season weeks ago, but the Gators have scored 24+ in 10 of 12 games this season.
» UF has scored in 397 consecutive games, an NCAA record.
» Florida is one of only two FBS teams (Alabama) that has not lost to an opponent that finished the season with a losing record dating back to the 2008 season.

Prediction and analysis

Spread: Florida -13.5 | O/U: 55

Doubting the Gators can cover big spreads has been my downfall in picking Florida games this season, and it was mostly based on recent history. If there’s one thing Mullen has proven since taking over, it is that his teams are going to score and score and score, even when the game is in hand. With the line hovering around two touchdowns, it provides enough cushion for the Gators to pick up their fourth-straight double-digit win to end the season. But they are facing a particularly difficult challenger.

Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins is dynamic on the ground (745 yards rushing, 11 touchdowns), toting the ball 102 more times than the next-best rusher on the team. That has opened up the passing game (3,215 yards), though Perkins does commit plenty of turnovers (18 TDs passing, 11 interceptions). Florida is focused on stopping him from running as a priority. If it is able to do that, its defense should be able to control the game, even without a key player in Henderson.

“This guy is really special in the sense that … he’s gotten better every game this year. The end of the year probably averaging 300 yards a game passing. He’s obviously athletic and can make things happen. I mean, he’s carried the ball 100 more times than their tailback. You’ve got to understand that,” said defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. “… The thing on the pass plays is, as you distribute because the guys are going down the field, a guy that is athletic like that, if he makes a guy miss and can get out in space, now you have an athlete with the ball in his hand in space. So that becomes an issue. But I think the biggest thing that Perkins has done is been able to complete some vertical throws down the field.”

With freshman quarterback Anthony Richardson joining bowl practices, the Gators were able to use him on the scout team as a stand-in for Perkins, which should have helped the team’s preparation. Still, Florida is aware of the challenge Perkins presents. “You’ve got to be sound. You’ve got to be disciplined. You’ve got to understand he’s going to make plays, and you just have to limit the amount that he can make,” said Mullen.

No matter how dynamic Perkins may be, I just simply do not see the Wahoos’ offensive line sustaining over the course of 60 minutes against the Gators’ defensive front seven. Virginia has allowed 27+ points in its last four games, which bodes well for Florida’s offense. Clemson shut it down defensively in the ACC Championship Game. The Gators should cover the two touchdowns, but the total is a coin flip as the final could be something between 35-17 and 40-20, so let’s err with the under.

2019 records: ATS picks 4-6-2 | O/U picks 7-5 | Overall: 11-11-2

Odds and ends

» Florida will wear traditional blue jerseys with white pants and orange helmets in the Orange Bowl.
» Virginia will be wearing orange jerseys, a color-on-color contrast, with white jerseys and white helmets.
» Here’s what the end zones will look like for the game.

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