Jim McElwain’s first season will end the same way his third season will begin- by facing Michigan in a high profile showdown.
Florida will take on Michigan (9-3) in the 2016 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando on New Year’s Day. The game will kick off at 1pm, and will be televised by ABC. It’s the third meeting between the Gators and Wolverines, with all three coming in New Year’s Day bowl games. It’s also a prologue to the 2017 Cowboys Kickoff Classic, when Florida and Michigan will square off in Dallas.
Both of the previous match ups between the schools were noted for their high scoring; Michigan defeated Florida 38-30 in the 2003 Outback Bowl, and 41-35 in the 2008 Capital One Bowl (which was once and is again known as the Citrus Bowl). But this year will probably be remembered for the opposite. Michigan and Florida boast the 4th and 5th best defenses in the nation, respectively, giving up 281 and 284 yards per game, and both teams rank outside the top 70 in total offense.
This is not where the Gators wanted to be in mid-October, especially behind an Ole Miss team they clobbered 38-10 in the pecking order, but the Citrus Bowl is far more respectable a postseason destination than fans could have realistically asked for this summer. Both McElwain and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh have done exceptional jobs guiding their schools in their first year, and both fan bases are understandably excited for their teams’ futures. And for one of these rising programs, a Citrus Bowl win will springboard them that much closer to reclaiming elite status.