Keene, Central Florida take on Florida in Gasparilla Bowl

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Gasparilla Bowl: Central Florida (8-4) against Florida (6-6), Dec. 23, 7:00 p.m. Eastern (ESPN).

Line: Florida by 6 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Florida leads 2-0.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Central Florida is looking for bragging rights in the Sunshine State, while Florida tries to avoid its third losing season since 2013.

KEY MATCHUP

Florida quarterback Emory Jones against the UCF defense. Jones finished the regular season with 2,563 yards passing and 19 touchdowns, and 696 yards rushing with four TDs. The UCF defense has been impressive at times this season, giving up less than 300 yards of total offense in five games.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Central Florida: True freshman Mikey Keene, who replaced Dillon Gabriel after the all-conference quarterback broke his left collarbone in the loss to Louisville on Sept. 17. Keene threw for over 200 yards in three of the final five regular-season games.

Florida: Running back Dameon Pierce carried the ball just 87 times for 517 yards but scored 12 touchdowns. He might get increased work with backup quarterback Anthony Richardson, who threw for 529 yards and picked up 401 yards rushing, out for the year following knee surgery.

FACTS & FIGURES

Florida is being led by interim coach Greg Knox after the Gators fired Dan Mullen prior to the regular-season finale against Florida State. Former Louisiana coach Billy Napier was hired as Mullen’s replacement. … Florida beat UCF 58-27 in 1999 and 42-0 during the 2006 season in a pair of home games. The teams recently announced a three-game series, with Florida hosting games in 2024 and 2033, and UCF playing at home in 2030. … UCF ranks 28th in the nation with 2.83 sacks a game and 18th with 7.0 tackles for loss per game. … Florida lost four of its final six games, but ended the regular season with a win over Florida State.

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