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College Football Betting Online: It’s only fitting that the game originally known as the Gator Bowl takes place in Florida. The contest hit some snags in the early years and was on the verge of being discontinued due to poor attendance and apathy from the Jacksonville community. But the organizers stuck it out and the game has flourished as one of the best attended bowl games. The TaxSlayer Gator Bowl has been held annually since 1946 making it the sixth oldest bowl game.
The 2017 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl will take place on Saturday, December 30 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. ESPN will air the game with kickoff set for 12 p.m. ET.
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl Odds at BookMaker.eu
Louisville Cardinals -6.5
Mississippi State Bulldogs +6.5
The Mississippi State team are dogs in this game in more than one way, entering play without their head coach or star quarterback. Dan Mullen is gone, while an injury will keep Nick Fitzgerald glued to the sidelines.
Odds makers aren’t overly optimistic about the Bulldogs without either man impacting this game.
Both teams were offensively focused in the regular season. Louisville’s offense was a bit more balanced, leading to a third ranked offense based on total yards and No. 13 ranked scoring offense.
The Bulldogs weren’t quite as prolific as the Cardinals based on the numbers. Fitzgerald wasn’t much of a passer, completing 55.6-percent of his passes and posting a 15:11 touchdown to interception ratio. Still, he wasn’t completely inept in the air and was a strong runner with 984 rushing yards and 6.1 yards per carry. He also led the team with 14 rushing scores.
Without Fitzgerald, this offense falls on Aeris Williams’ shoulders. The running back notched 1,019 yards, but had only five touchdowns. He’s a strong runner, but Keytaon Thompson needs to play well under center, too. He has wheels like Fitzgerald, but his arm have been even less accurate.
On the defensive end, Mississippi certainly has the edge compared to the Cardinals. Louisville’s defense is average. The Bulldogs’ D is strong and balanced, ranking in the top-25 against the pass and the run based on yardage.
That stout defense, however, will be tested on both fronts by Louisville. The Cardinals’ main main, obviously, is Lamar Jackson.
Jackson is a prolific talent and fun player to watch. He can pass. He can run. With 3,489 passing yards, 25 passing touchdowns, 1,443 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns, he was a one-man offense. There are a few solid runners in the backfield who took advantage of Jackson pulling the defenders to rack up impressive yards per carry averages. In the passing game, Jackson had his favorite receivers—obviously—but still spread the wealth with six players tallying at least 20 receptions and three more than 600 yards.
Can the Bulldogs’ defense slow Jackson enough to allow a Fitzgerald less offense to keep this close? Maybe. After all, Jackson did have a disappointing showing in last year’s bowl game.
TaxSlayer Bowl Format
The early years of the bowl held a local flair as teams from the Southern Conference were invited to play an at large opponent. Starting with the 1953 playing, the Gator Bowl started featuring a Southeastern Conference team against an at-large. With the game taking place in their neck of the woods, the SEC made an appearance in 20 of 24 games between 1953 and 1975 with two SEC teams facing each three times in that span.
There were no conference affiliations but the bowl would typically invite a team from the southeast to compete from 1976 through 1995. Starting in 2006 the bowl would typically host the second-place teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big East. The ACC officially became involved with the 2007 game taking on a team from the Big East, Big 12 or Notre Dame.
The Big Ten entered the picture for the 2010 game and in 2015 the bowl will returned to a hybrid arrangement for a six-year period. The deal features SEC teams playing ACC teams for three years and Big Ten teams the other three years. Notre Dame is eligible during ACC years. All the arrangements are based on having enough bowl-eligible teams.
TaxSlayer Bowl Game Results
|Season ||Winners ||Losers|
|2009||Florida State||West Virginia|
|2006||West Virginia||Georgia Tech|
|2004||Florida State||West Virginia|
|2002||North Carolina State||Notre Dame|
|2001||Florida State||Virginia Tech|
|1999||Miami, Fla.||Georgia Tech|
|1998||Georgia Tech||Notre Dame|
|1997||North Carolina||Virginia Tech|
|1996||North Carolina||West Virginia|
|1992||Florida||North Carolina State|
|1985||Florida State||Oklahoma State|
|1984||Oklahoma State||South Carolina|
|1982||Florida State||West Virginia|
|1976||Notre Dame||Penn State|
|*1967||Penn State/Florida State||Florida State/Penn State|
|1965||Georgia Tech||Texas Tech|
|1963||North Carolina||Air Force|
|1961||Penn State||Georgia Tech|
|1950||Wyoming||Washington & Lee|
|1946||Oklahoma||North Carolina State|
|1945||Wake Forest||South Carolina|
*1947 and 1967 Gator Bowls ended in ties
The initial Gator Bowl was bankrolled by several members of the Jacksonville community and it didn’t start well. Playing at the old Fairfield Stadium with a capacity of 7,600, the inaugural game between Wake Forest and South Carolina attracted a sparse gathering. The 1949 matchup between Clemson and Missouri saw the Gator Bowl arrive. With an attendance of 32,939, the game nearly matched the total from the first three games combined. Attendance continued to increase and by the 1970s crowds regularly reached 70,000.
The regional attraction helped with the games popularity. The sport blew up in the 1970s, especially in the southeast, and the game’s ties to the SEC and ACC continued a tradition of high-level action. The game has featured nationally-ranked opponents facing each other 36 times in its history.
Many of college football’s biggest names have participated in the Gator Bowl. There have been close games and blowouts, defensive struggles and offensive outbursts. We’ve even seen fireworks on the sideline.
In the 1978 game between Ohio State and Clemson, legendary Buckeyes’ coach Woody Hayes blew a gasket after a late-game interception by Charlie Bauman, who ran out of bounds on the OSU sideline. Hayes struck Bauman with his right forearm. The play sealed the Tigers' 17-15 win and Hayes was fired the next day before leaving Jacksonville.
Most All-Time Wins at TaxSlayer Bowl
|Wins ||Team ||Years Won|
|7||Florida||1952, 1960, 1962, 1969, 1983, 1992, 2012|
|6||Florida State||1964, 1982, 1985, 2001, 2004, 2009|
|5||North Carolina||1963, 1979, 1981, 1996, 1997|
|4||Auburn||1954, 1970, 1972, 1974|
|4||Clemson||1948, 1978, 1986, 1989|
|4||Georgia Tech||1956, 1965, 1998, 2016|
|4||Tennessee||1957, 1966, 1994, 2014|
With its roots so close to home it isn’t surprising to see many teams based in the southeastern part of the country making so many appearances in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. The University of Florida has about a 70 mile drive from Gainesville to Jacksonville and they’ve made the trek nine times, the most of any team in the TaxSlayer Bowl. The trips have been worth it with the Gators winning seven times, also a bowl record.
Florida State isn’t far behind. The Seminoles are 6-0-1 at the bowl with their only blemish being a tie with Penn State in the 1967 game. The ACC is well represented by other teams as well. Clemson has made nine appearances with four wins, Georgia Tech has split its eight meetings and North Carolina is 5-2 and the only team to win back-to-back games. The Tar Heels did that in the 1996 and 1997 seasons.
Last year’s TaxSlayer Bowl saw the favorite Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets knock off Kentucky 33-18 to cover the 3-point spread. The favored team is now 14-3 straight up and 13-5 ATS in the last 18 games. The 2001 bowl game between Virginia Tech and Florida State was a pick em.
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