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Gators find motivation in Gasparilla Bowl matchup

A victory would make the Gators 4-0 this season versus in-state opponents
Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 11:48 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -After a 6-6 regular season in which they didn’t become bowl eligible until a season-ending win over Florida State, the Gators remain inspired entering Thursday’s Gasparilla Bowl matchup versus UCF.

Although the Gators and Knights have very little history, the UCF program has been cresting in recent years and has long awaited a matchup against the Orange and Blue. UCF enters the bowl matchup 8-4. A win over the Knights would give the Gators a 4-0 record this season versus in-state opponents.

“When they told us we’re playing UCF I feel like our minds already started preparing for the game then so I feel like we’re prepared,” said sophomore defensive lineman Gervon Dexter.

During an era in which NFL draft-bound players often skip their team’s bowl game, senior defensive lineman Zachary Carter is the only Gator who has opted out of the contest so far. Junior cornerback Kaiir Elam, a projected first round pick, says he is playing on Thursday out of a sense of duty.

“I feel like this would be a good game for me,” said Elam. “I feel I had two weeks to get back healthy and show what I could do. And number two, I felt I owed it to my team.”

“Why? because I’m a Gator, bro,” said senior running back Pierce. “When I signed here, I signed for four good years, I got my education and I’m going to rock out that day until I die.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

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