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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

I'm conflicted.

On one hand, everything about the Orange and Blue Game is a fun experience for fans who haven't seen their Gators play football in more than three months.

On the other hand, it's a useless waste of time.

On one hand, it's a great opportunity - the last opportunity - for seniors to watch some football in The Swamp.

On the other hand, what takes place this Saturday can barely be classified as football.

On one hand, Tim Tebow will be airing out bombs and Brandon Spikes will be making running backs pay.

On the other hand, they'll be doing what they do best against players wearing the same uniform, they won't be trying their hardest while they're at it and most of the incoming freshmen won't be in town.

There are plenty of other UF sports to watch this weekend. The Gators baseball team has a three-game series at home against Mississippi, a team with an identical 9-6 record in the Southeastern Conference. The No. 1 UF softball team plays three games in Baton Rouge, La., against No. 19 LSU, and both games of the Saturday doubleheader will be televised on Cox Sports. There's even some UF club lacrosse this weekend, as the No. 13 Gators men face No. 5 FSU on Friday night.

How often do you get to see competitive lacrosse on campus?

Yet all of those sports - all of which have real meaning toward regular-season records - won't combine to draw anything close to the number of people that will head into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday.

Football is king in Gainesville, and the Gators' spring practices regularly bring in hundreds of fans looking for a glimpse of their favorite wide receiver.

On Saturday, they'll get more than just a glimpse. Fans will get to see many of next season's starters and take a peek at who could sneak into the rotation in September.

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The roster for the fall has been mostly decided already, but with a slew of injuries to players who will start, you'll get to watch players who wouldn't normally see this much playing time get a significant slice of the pie.

Running back Emmanuel Moody, who barely saw any carries last season unless the game was out of reach, is expected to play prominently in the Orange and Blue Game.

Walk-on running back Christopher Scott, who has been the story of spring practice, will enjoy some time in the limelight during the annual scrimmage.

Redshirt freshman Sam Robey, whose injured left knee kept him out of action last season, will likely be a starting center in the game. He might even make the cut during the fall.

And, of course, there's the pageantry that comes with gameday in Gainesville. The stadium will be rocking, the cars will line the streets and the tailgaters will come out in force.

So while there may not be much at the Orange and Blue Game in terms of important plays, real pressure situations or full-out effort from starters, it's still worth attending.

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