football Edit

Five keys to a Gators victory in the Cotton Bowl

© Gainesville Sun-USA TODAY NETWORK
© Gainesville Sun-USA TODAY NETWORK

The Gators are set to take on the Oklahoma Sooners for the first time since meeting in the National Championship back in 2008.

Both teams are ranked in the top-10 of the College Football Playoff and have two of the more high-powered offenses in the country as well.

GatorsTerritory dishes out five keys to a Gators victory as UF looks to avoid ending the season on a three-game losing streak.

Limit Oklahoma’s big plays


Florida’s defense has struggled all year with giving up what many refer to as “chunk plays," and Spencer Rattler has that gunslinger mentality where he is constantly looking for the big play.

The Sooners' offense thrives off big plays with a dynamic receiving corps and quarterback who is not afraid to take risks. Watch for that to be a big factor in the game on Wednesday.

Young wide receivers have to step up for Florida

With Florida’s top-four receivers out for this game, as Pitts, Grimes and Toney opted out and Copeland tested positive for COVID, the younger pass catchers are going to have to step up on offense.

Justin Shorter, Kemore Gamble, Keon Zipperer and even Xzavier Henderson have had their moments this year where they flashed excellent ability and have made an impact. Now it will be time for guys like Trent Whittemore, Ja’Markis Weston and Ja’Quavion Fraziers to be more involved in order for UF's pass-happy offense to thrive.

Florida’s ability to tackle in space

Most of the Gators' defense has struggled to tackle in the open field this year, and that could prove problematic against a team that excels at getting its playmakers the ball in space.

Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley is one of the best play callers in the country and will definitely look to exploit that weakness. If the Gators are going to be able to win this game with just 60 scholarship players available, they will have to be better at bringing opposing players to the ground.

Jaydon Hill vs. Oklahoma’s receiving corps

With Marco Wilson opting out of the bowl game and preparing for the NFL Draft, Florida fans will get what they’ve been clamoring for all year.

Jaydon Hill has looked solid in spurts this year, but he will finally get to be the guy opposite of Thorpe Award semifinalist, Kaiir Elam.

The Sooners have one of the better wide receiver rooms in the country, so I would expect them to test Hill early and often to see what he’s got. If he is able to hold his own against OU’s receivers, I think the Gators have a good shot at winning the game.

Protect Kyle Trask

Oklahoma leads the Big 12 in sacks this year with 36 as a team, so we know they can get after the quarterback. And to avoid beating a dead horse, I will say it just once, but the right side of Florida’s offensive line has struggled to protect Kyle Trask and it could be worse on Wednesday.

The Gators are going to have to rely on younger, less proven wide receivers to get open, create separation and give Trask a target to throw to. It could take these younger players a bit longer to get open, so the line will have to find a way to hold their blocks and keep Kyle Trask clean during his last game as a Gator.