The Florida football team needed a fast start against Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl to help overcome the loss of several key offensive players.
Instead, the No. 6 Sooners jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter en route to a 55-20 rout of the No. 7 Gators on Wednesday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“Tough game for us,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said on a Zoom call with reporters after the game. “We turned the ball over too many times.”
The 55 points are an Oklahoma Bowl Game record and ties the Cotton Bowl record (USC, 1995). The 35-point scoring margin is also the highest the Sooners have had in a bowl game in their 112-year history.
Star tight end Kyle Pitts, leading receiver Kadarius Toney, and wide receiver Trevon Grimes opted out of the game after declaring for the NFL draft. Plus, wide receiver Jacob Copeland was out due to COVID-19.
That’s Florida’s top four receivers, who had combined for 2,778 yards and 34 TDs.
But offense wasn’t Florida’s biggest challenge. Oklahoma (9-2) finished with 684 total yards, including 435 yards on the ground. It was the third time this season the Gator defense allowed more than 600 yards in a game—after only letting it happen twice in the history of the program prior to 2020, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
Offensive MVP Rhamondre Stevenson carried the ball 18 times for 186 yards, averaging more than 10 yards per tote.
The Sooners built a 31-13 lead at the half, intercepting Florida quarterback Kyle Trask three times in the opening half, including a 45-yard pick-six by defensive MVP Tre Norwood for a 14-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
For the first time this season Trask (16-of-28 for a season-low 158 yards) failed to throw a TD pass.
Still, Mullen said he “couldn’t be prouder” of his star quarterback: “A special, special year for him, what he was able to accomplish in the course of the year.”
Despite the slow start, the Gators were in the game early.
Evan McPherson hit a 21-yard field goal to put the Gators on the scoreboard with :31 to play in the opening quarter.
Then, Emory Jones scored on a one-yard touchdown run to make it 17-10 with 8:08 to play in the half.
McPherson added a 35-yard field goal with 6:05 to play in the second quarter to make it 17-13.
But that’s the closest Florida (8-4) would get the rest of the night. Oklahoma scored 24 unanswered points and led 41-13 at the end of the third quarter.