Tonight’s Cotton Bowl Classic between Florida and Oklahoma was expected to be a true shootout. That may still be the case, but the Gators could have a tough time keeping pace with Spencer Rattler and the Sooners given the opt-out situation with the roster.
We’ve seen numerous opt-outs from major bowl games over the last few years. If a game isn’t part of the College Football Playoff, there’s a decent chance that any significant NFL Draft hopeful will choose to sit it out. It’s unfortunate, but it’s also hard to blame them.
The Gators offense was already set to be without its three top receiving targets, in star tight end Kyle Pitts, and wide receivers Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes. Now, the defense is being eroded as well, with linebacker Ventrell Miller and defensive lineman Kyree Campbell among those who won’t be playing, per Pete Thamel. Cornerback Marco Wilson had already opted out of the game.
It is tough news for viewers, as this was expected to be one of the more fun games in this year’s shortened bowl slate. These two offenses are among the best in college football this year. It will take an impressive performance from Kyle Trask, Florida’s Heisman candidate quarterback, to overcome the losses here.
Sources: Florida’s defense will be significantly shorthanded tonight against Oklahoma because of injuries and opt outs. Among those expected to miss the game are linebacker Ventrell Miller, the Gators' leading tackler, and DL starter Kyree Campbell.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) December 30, 2020
Of course, not all is lost here. Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham hopes to use this game against Lincoln Riley’s explosive Sooners offense as an opportunity to see what he has in some of the Gators’ young defenders.
“I think it’s real critical that they [younger players] get some snaps and get some play time because that lets them see where they are,” Grantham said. “It also builds confidence for the future and the fact that they’re ready to take the horns as we move forward next year to be the kind of defense that we want to be and play to the standard that we have played two of the last three years.”
Tonight’s game on ESPN kicks off at 8 p.m. ET.