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In 2019, Florida coach Dan Mullen became the first coach to ever win New Year’s Six Bowl games in each of his first two seasons. He followed it up with a third-straight trip in 2020, but he couldn’t extend the winning streak as the Gators lost to Oklahoma with much of their team opting out of the game.
Getting back there for a fourth-straight year will be difficult, though. Florida plays Alabama and Georgia during the regular season, and Texas A&M is also receiving considerable hype and could be competitive for that spot, especially if it finishes with only one or two losses.
The road might be difficult for Mullen, but USA TODAY’s Erick Smith thinks he’ll be able to navigate it successfully. Smith predicts that the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs will make the College Football Playoff, leaving Florida as the highest-ranked non-playoff SEC team.
That would send the Gators to the Sugar Bowl, where Smith has them taking on Iowa State. The Cyclones were a trendy dark-horse playoff pick entering the season, but a loss to Iowa on Saturday all but ended those hopes. Still, if ISU can stay in the 9-10 win zone, it has a great shot at the NY6.
This would be Florida’s first-ever game against Iowa State. It would also mark UF’s first return to the Sugar Bowl since 2012 when the team was stunned by Louisville after just barely missing out on a chance to play for a national championship.
Here are USA TODAY’s full bowl projections heading into Week 3.
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