Gator football team loses Las Vegas Bowl to Oregon State, 30-3 to end season 6-7 overall
Quarterback Jack Miller III made his first collegiate start for Florida, completing 13 of 22 passes for 180 yards
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (WCJB) -A season of inconsistency under first-year head coach Billy Napier came to an unfortunate, although perhaps symbolic close on Saturday with Florida losing the Las Vegas Bowl to No. 14 Oregon State, 30-3 to finish the season 6-7 overall. The result gives UF back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1978 and 79.
The Gators were 37 seconds away from being shut out for the first time since 1988. Only a 40-yard field goal by Adam Mihalek in the final minute prevented Florida from being blanked. Florida has now scored in an NCAA-record 436 games. It was small consolation.
Quarterback Jack Miller III made his first collegiate start for Florida, completing 13 of 22 passes for 180 yards. Miller was one of several Gators starting in place of players who opted out to prepare for the NFL draft. Quarterback Anthony Richardson, First Team All-American guard O’Cyrus Torrence, and linebacker Ventrell Miller were among those who sat out.
Both teams punted on their first possession of the game. Florida’s initial defensive series was highlighted by a Princely Umanmielen sack for a loss of 11 yards.
On Florida’s second offensive series, Miller completed four passes on an 11-play drive to set up Mihalek for a 52-yard field goal attempt. The try missed wide left, and the game continued scoreless.
On their next possession, the Beavers took a 7-0 lead on a Tyjon Lindsey 8-yard touchdown run with 2:10 left in the first. The score was set up by Ben Gulbranson’s 36-yard pass to Silas Bolden to the Florida 19-yard line.
Oregon State added a field goal with 4:32 left in the second quarter, a 27-yarder by Everett Hayes. The kick was necessary after the Beavers had a fourth down conversion at the Florida 2-yard line negated by a penalty.
Florida went backwards following the field goal. On second down, Miller was sacked by former Gator Andrew Chatfield for a loss of 10 yards. Florida would punt to go into the half down 10-0. The most impactful play turned in by a Gator all game came when Jordan Young blocked a 33-yard field goal attempt to end the half. Derek Wingo returned the block 35 yards to end the half.
Florida was outgained in the half, 185-93 and produced only two yards in the second quarter. Miller was 6-for-11 passing for 68 yards in the opening 30 minutes.
Oregon State started the third quarter by converting a fake punt for an 11-yard gain and a first down into Florida territory. The play proved to be a shift in momentum as the Beavers socred a touchdown eight plays later on a 15-yard Gulbranson pass to Bolden. Florida trailed, 17-0.
Things went from bad to worse for the the Gators. They went three-and-out on their next series, losing five yards in the process. Then, Jeremy Crawshaw’s punt was blocked, and the Beavers took over at the 7-yard line. The Beavers turned the miscue into immediate points. Three plays later, Gulbranson took it in himself 7 yards for a touchdown, and a disastrous sequence for the Gators put them behind, 23-0. Offensively, the Gators endured a stretch in which four drives netted 12 total yards.
The biggest surprise in the game was Florida’s ineffective running game. Florida came into the matchup averaging 213 yards per game on the ground, but was held to 39 against Oregon State, which yielded just 114 rushing yards a contest during the regular season (second-best in the Pac-12).
Miller’s longest pass play was a 38-yard connection to Thai Chiaokhiao-Bowman to the Oregon State 6-yard line to set up Mihalek’s field goal. Neither team committed a turnover.
In contrast to the Gators’ struggles, the Beavers finish the year with seven wins in their final eight games for just the third 10-win season in team history.
The loss will leave a bitter taste for Napier and the Gators as a long off-season approaches. Florida is most definitely hoping that whatever happened in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
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