Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gators to Face East Carolina; Florida Looking to End Season on High Note against Pirates in Birmingham Bowl

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gators to Face East Carolina; Florida Looking to End Season on High Note against Pirates in Birmingham Bowl

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits

After Internet rumors on Sunday had the Florida Gators pegged for a possible return to Jacksonville to play in the Taxslayer Bowl for a record 10th time, reality set in when the SEC designated UF to the Birmingham Bowl to play East Carolina.

Best faces forward, all around.

"We are excited to be headed to Birmingham for the Birmingham Bowl," athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement. "Our players, coaches and staff are looking forward to traveling to the home of the conference office and representing the University of Florida."

The Gators are 6-5 and East Carolina, which lost to Central Florida 32-30 last week in the American Athletic Conference championship game, is 8-4. The Pirates were 6-1 at one point this season, and got into the AP poll, but they lost three of their last five games.

Florida is bowl-eligible for the first time since going to the Sugar Bowl following the 2012 season.

During their early hot streak, the Pirates defeated North Carolina and Virginia Tech. Quarterback Shane Carden has thrown for 4,309 yards (second in the nation) and 28 touchdowns. ECU is 15th in scoring offense (37.2 points per game).

But Florida's defense has handled prolific quarterbacks this season, intercepting FSU's Jameis Winston four times last week and limiting Missouri's Maty Mauk to 20 yards passing, on 6-of-18 attempts. …

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