C l i c k   for   H  O  M  E  P  A  G  E

2 0 0 7    S u m m a r i e s

2005    2006    2008

  Recruiting Mid Summer Night’s Dream Pre Season Rant W. Kentucky Troy State Tennessee
  Ole Miss Auburn LSU Kentucky Georgia Vanderbilt
  South Carolina FL Atlantic FSU SEC Championship National Championship

Recruiting Rant

It really doesn’t matter whether or not Florida’s 2007 Football recruiting class is ranked number one or number two... Rivals.Com and Scout.Com have the Gators #1, another service rates Southern California’s class as the nation’s best.

Recall that we played this game last year, when UF headed into signing day ahead in the minds of most services, only to be nipped at the wire by USC or LSU.

Inevitably, perhaps, a showdown between these two intersectional powerhouses is in the cards. Only time will tell.

One has to be impressed with the 27 signees inked by head coach Urban Meyer. The recruiting haul includes and astounding 10 five-star and 13 four-star players. Some are calling it the best haul in school and SEC history.

Meyer’s class was almost perfectly balanced, with 12 offensive players and 14 defensive players, plus one special teams player. The recruits filled some immediate needs, particularly on the defensive line. Six defensive ends or defensive tackles signed, along with five defensive backs and three linebackers. On offense, Meyer signed three linemen, three quarterbacks, two running backs, two wide receivers and a tight end.

The only signing day surprise occurred when Belle Glade Glades Central wide receiver Deonte Thompson shunned Miami and signed with UF. Thompson’s signing keeps open a pipeline to a school that has given UF such stars as Reidel Anthony and Fred Taylor.

Speaking of pipelines, the Gators signed seven members of Lakeland High School’s three-peat state champion team. These kids have posted back-to-back-to-back 15-0 seasons, winners of 45-in-a-row and two mythical high school national championships.

If you believe Rivals.com, the SEC is headed for a renaissance. Seven SEC teams were rated among the nations top 10 in recruiting. Scout.Com ranked five SEC schools among its top ten recruiting hauls.

Gator Hoop: Time to lose one?

I have watched most of the Gator basketball team’s games this season, and except for one game, they have not ¨turned it on¨ like they did in the NCAA tournament last year.

I am happy to report that when this team is ¨on,¨ they are unstoppable - ask Ohio State. The Gators are the defending national champions and deserve their current #1 ranking.

The problem is, during most of the games I’ve watched, the Gators appear almost disinterested, except in spurts. In the case of Tennessee, they got out to a big lead early and lost interest, allowing the Vols to rally to within striking range. In the case of Vanderbilt, UF took an early lead, and then coasted to sleep while the Dores built a double-digit halftime lead. Fortunately, this team is still that good and that fast.

UF turned it on, and an intense second half onslaught allowed the Gators to regain control and win handily.

But whereas a five-minute spurt in each half might be good enough to put away an unranked opponent, I don’t think that will cut it come tournament time.

Florida is 22-2, has won its last 15 in a row and is unbeaten in SEC play. (Note the school record for consecutive wins in a season is 17, set last year.) But here’s the problem...

There are six games remaining on the schedule, followed by the SEC tournament (likely, three games) followed by the NCAA tournament (six games to the championship game). That’s 15 games. Unless UF loses one of its next six games (@ Kentucky, vs. Alabama, @Vanderbilt, vs. S. Carolina, @LSU, @ Tennessee, vs. Kentucky) it will force itself into the position of having to win all of the remaining tournament games. That would be a staggering 30-in-a-row!

Can they do it? Certainly it has been done before. Such a feat would elevate this team into the realm of the legendary collegiate teams of yesteryear. It hasn’t been said, but maybe that is the goal... Coach Billy Donovan is a superb motivator, so I wouldn’t bet against them.

On the other hand, sometimes a loss fuels the fire. Perhaps an unexpected SEC road loss would refocus this team into playing 40-minutes of basketball again. Force them to put on their ’tournament faces.’

Basketball is a funny animal. A sprained thumb here, foul trouble to a starter there, and suddenly, two freshmen are getting lots of playing time.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

As Always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

A Mid Summer Night’s Dream

By now it’s old news that the Florida Gators captured National Championship in men’s basketball, handily defeating Ohio State 84-75.

It is the school’s second straight national crown in basketball, and ’bookend’s’ the Gator football team’s 41-14 triumph over Ohio State (Them Again!) to claim the 2007 national title in that sport. The win caps perhaps the greatest 366 days in UF history of men’s sports, three national titles in marquee sports.

The basketball title game was all but over at halftime. OSU had no answer for the Gators full-court versatility. An 8-0 run midway through the first half put UF ahead until OSU chipped it down to 24-22. At that point, the Gators stroked a trio of three-pointers - one each by Lee Humphrey, Corey Brewer and Taurean Green -- to regain command. Yes, OSU did start the 2nd half with a 7-2 run to cut the 40-29 halftime margin margin to 42-36, but UF never relented, eventually boosting the margin to 14.

Brewer finished with 13 points and eight rebounds and was named MOP of the Final Four. Joakim Noah, last year’s MOP, was saddled with foul trouble most of the game, finished with 8 points and 3 rebounds.

Before continuing, here is a good place to recognize all of UF’s National Championships

Men’s Golf   1968   NCAA Championship
Men’s Golf  1973  NCAA Championship
Women’s Swimming  1979  AIAW Championship
Gymnastics  1982  AIAW Championship
Women’s Swimming  1982 NCAA Championship
Men’s Swimming  1983  NCAA Championship
Men’s Swimming  1984  NCAA Championship
Women’s Golf  1985  NCAA Championship
Women’s Golf  1986  NCAA Championship
Women's Track  1992  NCAA Indoor Championship
Women’s Tennis  1992  NCAA Championship
Men’s Golf  1993  NCAA Championship
Women’s Tennis  1996  NCAA Championship
Football  1996  Associated Press/Coaches’
Women’s Tennis  1998  NCAA Championship
Soccer  1998  NCAA Championship
Men’s Golf  2001  NCAA Championship
Women’s Tennis  2003  NCAA Championship
Men’s Basketball  2006  NCAA Championship
Football  2006  BCS/Associated Press
Men’s Basketball  2007  NCAA Championship

The drama following the basketball final surpassed that of the tournament itself. Billy Donovan was widely reported to be leaving to accept the vacated head-coaching job at Kentucky. But Donovan spurned the Cats. Then signed a $27.5 million contract to coach the Orlando Magic. Whoops, wait a minute... almost immediately after signing the contract with Orlando, Billy D had a change of heart and decided that he belongs in Gainesville. After a week or wrangling, Billy D is back in the fold and will coach UF next year... and hopefully for a long time thereafter.

Although the draft hasn’t occurred yet, Brewer, Horford, Noah and Green, -- the juniors who were the heart and soul of UF’s back-to-back hoop titles - will forego their senior season to play in the National Basketball Association. Contrary to most press conference of its ilk, Brewer, Horford and Green broke down and cried openly during the announcement that they were leaving school for what is certainly million-dollar-plus paydays.

After a disappointing season, UF fired Head baseball coach Pat McMahon. Since losing the 2005 title game in the College World Series (to Texas), McMahon teams went 58-57.

The Gators have hired Kevin O’Sullivan as its new baseball coach. O’Sullivan arrives in Gator Country after serving nine seasons as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Clemson, where he helped the Tigers to nine-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and College World Series berths in 2000, 2002 and 2006. O’Sullivan becomes the 21st head coach in school history.

From the “Aw Shi.... Dept.: A Gator basketball player and Gator football player were arrested on drug charges. Authorities arrested Brandon James and Brandon Powell during an undercover drug sting. Both face charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis. James is a sophomore running back who played as the primary punt and kick returner for the Gators as a true freshman. Powell is a sophomore guard from Memphis for the basketball team. Both players have been suspended indefinitely.

Other than that last bit, as always....

It’s great to be a Florida Gator.

P R E    S E A S O N    R A N T

By now most of the polls have been published and the Florida Gators appear to be a consensus top 10 pick for the 2007 season. Heady stuff for a squad with so many unproven players and unanswered questions.

The experts say that Southern Cal and LSU will slug it out for the national title in New Orleans, while most polls pick UF as the 6th best team in the nation.

With a veteran offensive line, QB Tim Tebow, Bubba Caldwell and Percy Harvin, the Gators are expected to be a capable point-producing machine.

It is the defensive side where pundits say UF is questionable. Graduations and early defections to the NFL have left UF with inexperience starters in the secondary, at linebacker and along the defensive line.

Are expectations too high?

Probably. Unlike 1996, when UF rolled to the title after progressing from a #3 finish in ’94 to #2 in ’95, last year’s national championship was completely unexpected. Yeah, I said it. Going into the SEC title game, we still couldn’t make a simple field goal. The 2006 Gators never seemed to slam the door on its opponents (in the regular season).

The Gators edged Tennessee and South Carolina by one point, the latter at home on a blocked field goal on the game’s final play. UF beat Georgia and FSU by a TD, games that should not have been that close, but became nail-biters due to the inability to make field goals. The outcome of the Alabama and LSU games were in doubt in the fourth quarter, and did Florida ever really salt away Vanderbilt?

This year, the experts say the Gators will have to outscore it opponents to win. Hot dog!!! Just like the 90s!!!

OK, Let’s break down the schedule.

Forget the opener against Western Kentucky. Name that score.

Game 2: versus Troy State will be interesting for about a half.

Game 3: hosts the Tennessee Volunteers. Always tough, Vols are ranked in the second ten. UF should win this game.

Game 4: at Mississippi. Ole Miss is regarded as one of the two worst teams in the SEC. UF should roll, but remember, Gator wins don’t come easy in the Magnolia State.

Game 5: Auburn in the Swamp. How much payback can you heap on a team that gave you your only defeat last year… and did so without scoring an offensive touchdown?

Game 6: at LSU. Uh-oh, payback, Cajun style… Except that UF somehow always manages to play well there. Remember, a UF win in Baton Rouge was the only blemish on LSU during its 2002 national title…

Game 7: at Kentucky: Supposedly a much improved team. Hasn’t beaten UF since 1986. Look out.

Game 8: Georgia: Until the Dawgs show that UF isn’t inside their heads, I have to go with the Orange & Blue in this one.

Game 9: Vanderbilt: In the Swamp. Homecoming. Fugggetaboutit.

Game 10: at South Carolina. A dangerous game. The Gators were ambushed by Spurrier there in ’05. Never rule out the genius of the ol’ Ball Coach.

Game 11: Florida Atlantic. Why are we playing them instead of Miami?

Game 12: Florida State. Annual grudge match in the Swamp. ‘Noles have underachieved lately. Will FSU coaching shake-up make any difference? Urban understands this game's massive effect on recruiting and will pull out all of the stops against Bowden.

SEC title game in Atlanta: God willing that UF earns this game, the experts expect a rematch against LSU.

This year’s four key games are Tennessee, Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina. A 4-0 record guarantees a trip to Atlanta. A more-likely 3-1 record means an anxious November, with Atlanta still possible. A 2-2 means wait until next year…

So let’s put it all in perspective… This team is too young and inexperienced to win the national title in 07. A divisional title however, is very possible. An SEC championship, also possible, but will hinge upon unsung and unproven players stepping up.

My honest best guess would be 11-2, 10-3. But that’s why we play them instead of mailing them in!!

As Always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

W E S T E R N   K E N T U C K Y
Florida vs Western Kentucky Game Summary

Florida’s 49-3 victory over Div-AA Western Kentucky did little to settle whether this year’s Gator football edition will be a contender or pretender.

Neither team can say that they played 60 minutes of football, but that’s a trick, because the final 8:32 of the contest was “terminated” after a 64-minute delay due to lightning. It was the first-ever UF football game not played to completion.

The defending national champs appeared very businesslike in dissecting their overmatched foes. Sophomore QB Tim Tebow threw for 300 yards and three TD’s in his first start, sort of a benchmark for measuring Gator quarterbacks. Wideout Riley Cooper caught two Tebow bombs and Percy Harvin added the third.

Those who pegged Tebow as a battering ram with a suspect passing arm should be scrambling for Saturday’s film. The soph looked poised behind center, his passes were crisp and on target. And when the opportunity to run presented, well you know, he is Tebow. I doubt that we’ll ever see him hook-slide after picking up a first down.

The defense surrendered over 200 total yards – nearly triple the output gained by Ohio State – OK, I’ll stop it. Yes, the secondary has some problems. The defensive line wasn’t getting much ‘push,’ although Derrick harvey had a stellar game. He’ll need help as the season progresses.

Perhaps the biggest news of the week occurred 1,2000 miles north. Div-2AA Appalachain State upset Michigan 34-32 at “the Big House.” Significant in that there are a few lingering idiots who still believe Meechigan got screwed by Florida’s selection to the BCS championship game. Guess they can now officially and forever shut up…

Tennessee scored 31 points on Cal, but lost by two TD’s. The Vols will face Florida in the SEC opener for both teams in two weeks at the Swamp.

This week features another ‘tune up’ game against Troy, one that will offer a sterner test of UF’s defensive mettle. Look fo…

(The rest of this rant was ‘terminated’ due to lightning. Tune in again next week for a new rant… ) Florida’s 49-3 victory over Div-AA Western Kentucky did little to settle whether this year’s Gator football edition will be a contender or pretender.

As Always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

T R O Y   S T A T E
Florida vs Troy State Game Summary

It’s difficult to know what to make of Florida’s 59-31 pasting of Troy last Saturday at the Swamp, another Jekyll & Hyde performance by UF.

Florida was flawless and unstoppable in the first half, cruising to a 49-7 lead and scoring touchdowns on all seven possessions.

Troy seemed unstoppable in the second half, outscoring the Gators 24-10 and seeming to pass at will against UF’s young and inexperienced secondary. The Gators manage 12 total yards in the 3rd quarter and couldn’t get out of their own way for most of the half. Troy netted 31 points and 20 first downs.

Naturally, this raises concerns as UF heads into SEC play this week, hosting Tennessee. The concern is that Tennessee’s veteran quarterback Erik Ainge will similarly shred UF’s pass coverage for big points. As good as the UF offense has been against non-SEC competition, it is not likely that Tim Tebow & co. will hang 50 on the Vols, even at the Swamp.

Tennessee enters the game 1-1, having lost its season opener to nationally ranked Callifornia out on the west coast, and pulling away from always-tough Southern Mississippi last week.

I did note that UF’s play calling seemed basic and fairly conservative. Tebow did not throw long against Troy and the Gators did not demonstrate any of the reverse-type plays that have previously been successful against Tennessee.

Is it possible that UF also shied away from displaying any defensive adjustment and coverage changes in order to affect the Vols’ game-plan and offensive preparations?

Coach Meyer is unbeaten in the Swamp. He’s asked us to wear Blue to the game to balance out the Orange. Consider it done…

My forecast: This one might come down to who has the ball last. The Vols gave up big points against Cal. I foresee another scoring fest, Florida prevailing 38-33.

Other news you can use…

Maybe you missed it, but UF’s first opponent, Western Kentucky rebounded from its 49-3 loss to the Gators with an 87-0 win this week.

The ‘Ol Ball Coach knocked #11 Georgia from the unbeaten ranks. South Carolina beat the Dawgs 16-12 in Athens, holding UGA without a TD.

If you stayed up late Saturday, you saw South Florida beat Auburn 26-23 in overtime at Auburn. USF completely outplayed Auburn in the 2nd half. If the Bulls had a field goal kicker, they would have easily won in regulation, but only converted one of four tries in the 2nd half, all after Auburn turnovers.

But the biggest news is that Michigan got pasted 39-7 at home by Oregon. The Wolverines have lost their last 4 games, a first time in my lifetime. Next weeks UM-Notre Dame game will feature both teams with 0-2 records, another first.

See you in Blue at the Swamp Saturday. As Always… s

As Always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

Florida vs Tennessee Game Summary

We all knew. It’s one of those things that are just given.

Tennessee. Well-know for smash-mouth football, likes to run for 200 yards per game, but skilled enough to beat anybody with the pass. Big, physical linemen and solid defense. All known qualities…

Florida. Young and very fast. Good offense against nobody competition. Overrated quarterback. Can’t win in the SEC with a battering-ram signal caller. Rode defense’s coat tails to last year’s championship. Now suspect, having to replace nine starters.

The college football world was prepared to welcome the Gators back to the also-ran real world. Everybody knew…

Saturday’s crucial SEC eastern division match-up between the Florida Gators and Tennessee Volunteers was predicted to be an offensive shootout. The Vols had all of their usual known qualities, but with an experienced quarterback and tested offensive line, were expected to seriously exploit the Gators’ defensive inexperience and suspect pass coverage.

Instead, it was all Gators this afternoon. Florida’s defense rose to the occasion, stuffing Tennessee’s ground game and largely contained the UT passing game. Florida’s offense simply overwhelmed the Vols enroute to a 59-20 smacking in the Swamp.

The Gator defense limited Tennessee to 37 yards rushing, one touchdown and a pair of field goals. UT’s other score came at the end of a seven-minute Florida drive when Gator QB Tim Tebow pass was intercepted and returned 94 yards for a UT TD.

Once again Tebow was outstanding, passing for two TD’s and running for two more. Percy Harvin had 195 all-purpose yards and Brandon James electrified the crowd with a 74 yard put return for a TD.

Now as the answers about Florida are coming more into focus, the questions about Tennessee are just beginning…

We just won’t know how good this Gator team is until it faces LSU in Baton Rouge on October 6. Barring the unexpected, both teams should be undefeated for that contest. To get there, UF must guard against overconfidence.

Next week, the Gators visit 1-2 Ole Miss in Oxford. The Rebels lost their SEC opener to Vanderbilt this week. It would be a huge upset if Ole Miss beat UF.

In two weeks, UF hosts Auburn. A month ago, AU was thought to be a challenger in the SEC west division, and this game was rated a ‘toss-up. However, Auburn will likely fall out of the rankings after losing 19-13 to Mississippi State. Dropping the Tigers to 1-2 after suffering their second straight home loss.

Around the horn… Last week’s Gator opponent, Troy beat Oklahoma State 41-23.

Kentucky upended 9th Ranked Louisville 40-34. It was Kentucky’s first win over a top-10 ranked team in 30 years. UK is 3-0 and could enter the top 25 this week…

In another example of a Southern team beating a Big 10 team, Florida Atlantic stunned Minnesota, 42-39. The Gators host FAU Nov. 17.

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt out-coached himself in a 41-38 loss at Alabama. The Hogs led 38-34 with about 2-and-a-half minutes on the clock and Alabama with no timeouts left. Facing third and long, Arkansas QB Casey Dick rolled out, and finding his primary receiver double covered, threw incomplete, stopping the clock. The incompletion saved at least 35 second for Alabama, which marched the length of the field and scored the game winning TD with 8 seconds left. Neither team is on UF’s schedule, but either could win the SEC West.

As Always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

O L E  M I S S.
Florida vs Ole Miss. Game Summary

Too many people felt that Florida’s point-producing explosion was going to continue this week against what appeared to be a hapless Mississippi team. After all, 55-points-per-game, going up against a team that lost to Vanderbilt the previous week, had you licking your chops…

However, history teaches us that that’s not how it works in the SEC. The football season is a marathon, not a sprint. Accordingly, the Gators weathered a spunky effort from Mississippi, defeating the Rebels 30-24 in a much-closer-than anticipated score at Oxford.

Mississippi did a great job of adjusting to these point-a-minute Gators’ offensive and defensive schemes. And if emotion is the octane in the fuel that drives these Gators, by mid-way through the third quarter, the tank was empty.

Still, the Gators led comfortably 27-9, before Old Miss engineered two third-quarter TD passes to cut the margin to 27-24.

It seemed that whenever UF found something that worked, Ole Miss would adjust and stop it. And when it appeared that UF had UM on the ropes, the Rebs adjusted and climbed back into the game.

Mississippi, it seemed, had answers for everything.

Except for Tebow. The Rebels had no answer for the big Gator QB. The sophomore sensation set a UF record for QBs, rushing for 166 yards on 27 attempts. He ran for two scores and passed for two more.

The defense gave up some big plays, missed tackles and proved that it still has some growing up to do. This week the Auburn Tigers-Plainsmen-WarEagles come to the Swamp. Once thought to be a contender in the SEC west, Auburn is 2-2. This only makes them dangerous. A loss to UF virtually eliminates AU from any championship scenario. How big would an upset be in their eyes…

No doubt Coach Meyer will remind the team that this team handed UF its lone setback last season. One bad call in one bad half of play…

My thought is that the Urbanator will top-off the tank. This one shouldn’t be close… Should be one heck of a tailgate and an even better game.

As Always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

Florida vs Auburn Game Summary


As Always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

L O U I S I A N A    S T A T E
Florida versus L S U Game Summary

As Always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

Florida vs Kentucky Game Summary

The Florida Gators regained control of its destiny in the wild SEC Eastern Division race with an exciting 45-37 win against eighth-ranked Kentucky in Lexington.

In what ostensibly amounted to an elimination game for UF, the Gators responded with their most complete team effort of the year.

The Wildcats took a quick 7-0 lead, mixing plays and seemingly effortlessly marching downfield against the young Gator defense.

And although UK QB Andre Woodson shredded UFs secondary, the Gator D made enough plays – including six sacks -- to keep Kentucky out of the end zone. This allowed the Gator offense to generate a 28-10 3rd quarter edge.

From that point, Coach Urban Meyer appeared willing to trade scores as the clock ticked down. UF ultimately led 45-31, but Woodson threw an inconsequential TD pass on the game’s final play.

As usual, Gator Quarterback Tim Tebow was tremendous, throwing four touchdown passes, running for another and superbly managing UF’s offense. There are simply not enough superlatives to describe how good this kid is and what he means to UF.

The Gators got a lot of help Saturday moving back into control of the SEC East. First, Alabama blasted Tennessee 41-17. Second – and even more improbable – Vanderbilt stunned 6th ranked South Carolina 17-6 in Columbia. Now each SEC East team has at least two conference losses. However, since both of UF’s losses were to Western Division teams, all UF must do is win its remaining games against Georgia, Vanderbilt and South Carolina to claim the head-to-head tie-breaker and earn a return trip to the SEC title game in Atlanta.

Up next is Georgia. The Dawgs were open this week but come into the game having beaten Alabama, then were trounced by Tennessee two weeks ago, and finally, hung on to beat Vanderbilt with a field goal on the last play of the game.

Having watched parts of three games this week I’m getting kind of sick of the announcers advising us “that play is reviewable.” Granted, the videotape review will eliminate those gross officiating injustices such as occurred in the UF-FSU game four years ago, or cost UF a Sugar Bowl win against Nebraska in 1973. (In fairness, it would have also reversed the UF win versus FSU in the famed “Lane Fenner” game in the 60s…) But as in baseball, it ultimately proves that the officiating is pretty much fair and accurate.

What is beginning to suck is that television football commentary has begun to devolve into mind-numbing stupidity over video review of every spot of the ball on third down, and a two-minute time out for every touchdown whenever a defensive player is in the view-finder.

Get over it…

As always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator!

As Always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

Florida vs Georgia Game Summary

Too little Tebow and two much Moreno was the recipe for disaster at the renewal of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, as Georgia outplayed the Gators 42-30.

I wish that I could take something away from Georgia on this one, but I can’t. In winning for just the third time in the past 18 years, Georgia had a good game plan, and executed it. Behind Knowshon Moreno’s 188 rushing yards and Matt Stafford connecting on two long TD passes, Georgia kept UF pinned down on the scoreboard. UF did lead 17-14 late in the 2nd quarter, but without QB Tebow banging out his usual yardage, Florida had trouble sustaining momentum.

Still, UF had life in the fourth quarter until getting stopped on a 4th and two at the UGa 30. Normally, that would be automatic with Tebow running, but Bubba Caldwell lost yard on the play and UF was out of luck.

It was obvious that something was up with the UF offense. The Gator offense – which had ridden Tebow all season long – suddenly was without its most potent weapon. Timmy was held to negative yard – thanks to six sacks – and was otherwise tentative unless he was passing the ball.

It is more than apparent that the injury to Tebow’s right, non-throwing arm is much worse than UF has let on.

It was Coach Urban Meyer’s first loss to the Dawgs and realistically drops UF out of contention. For those who wish to cling to hope that the Gators will still win the East, UF must beat Vanderbilt for homecoming next week and beat South Carolina in Columbia Nov. 10. Georgia would need to lose to Auburn and Kentucky, which is possible this year. Tennessee would need to lose to either Arkansas, Vandy or Kentucky. Kentucky eliminated itself by inexplicitly losing big to Miss. State.

What a topsy turvy year in the SEC…

Until next week,

As Always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

Florida vs Vanderbilt Game Summary

After a five-week absence from the Swamp, the Florida Gators celebrated homecoming in fine fashion, spanking Vanderbilt 49-22.

It was a beautiful day for football, brilliantly sunny, breezy with temperature in the 70s. UF entered the game having lost three of its last four games. Vanderbilt countered with the conference’s third-best defense, one that held South Carolina to six points in a win and engineered an oh-so-close 20-17 loss to Georgia on the last play of their game.

It was no contest. UF rolled up 498 total yards and Percy Harvin was sensational, setting a school record becoming the only player to in Gator history to rush for more than 100 yards and total more than 100 yards receiving the football in a single game. UF QB Tim Tebow also turned in a Heisman-worthy performance, with three TD passes and two rushing scores. He now has 14 rushing TDs, tying Emmett Smith’s single season record and establishing an SEC record for rushing TDs by a quarterback.

But it was the defense that finally showed some spark. The Gators limited Vandy to 255 total yards, including two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Injuries forced UF to move second-team center Michael Pouncey to defensive tackle and the true freshman responded by making tackles and plugging gaps in the line.

Kudos also go to sophomore Brandon James who totaled 116 yards on kickoff and punt returns. Three times, James efforts gave the Gator offense excellent field position.

Next up…

The Gators conclude their conference play next week, traveling to Columbia to play Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks. The ‘Cocks had risen to #6 in the polls before losing consecutive games to Vanderbilt, Tennessee (in OT) and Arkansas. The Razorbacks hammered Carolina 48-36 last night, behind Darrin McFadden’s 324... yes 324 yards rushing. Felix Jones added 150 yards rushing for the Hogs.

Of course this makes USC a dangerous opponent. Two weeks ago, the ‘Cocks trailed Tennessee 21-0 in Knoxville before rallying to tie the game and force overtime. Against Arkansas, Carolina managed to hang around, but left points on the field, blowing a critical fourth-and-goal opportunity and botching a second on-sides kick that apparently surprised even their coach. Spurrier never lost four consecutive games while coaching at UF. With his alma mater coming to town, the pressure on the ol’ ball coach must be incredible.

Both UF and USC remain mathematically alive for the SEC East Division title. UF must beat USC, and hope that Auburn knocks off Georgia. Tennessee would also need to lose one of its remaining games versus Arkansas, Kentucky or Vanderbilt.

Let the Gator Growl…

As Always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

S O U T H    C A R O L I N A
Florida vs South Carolina Game Summary

As if the sub-plots surrounding the Florida-South Carolina football rivalry aren’t already noteworthy enough, Gator Coach Urban Meyer upped the ante Saturday night, allowing starting quarterback Tim Tebow to throw a meaningless touchdown pass with about 90 seconds left in a game in which the outcome had already been decided.

The result was a 51-31 Florida victory over Coach Steve Spurrier’s reeling South Carolina Gamecocks. The point total against Spurrier was the most since his coaching defeat in the 1995 Fiesta Bowl.

It was an entertaining game from start to finish. UF kicked off and recovered a fumble on the first play. Tebow capped the 21-yard drive with his first TD run, UF led 7-0. UF held USC on its next series, then blocked Ryan Succop’s rugby style punt. Tebow took the team in from 22 yards and UF led 13-0. Carolina rallied for two TDs and led 14-13 at the quarter. From there on, it was too much Gators and too much Tebow.

Why Tebow was even playing with UF ahead 44-31 is a mystery. For the past month, as the hits pile up on UF’s quarterback, pundits have focused upon how much Tebow accounts for UF’s offense. Tebow averages 325.0 yards of total offense a game, accounting for something like 76% of UF’s offensive output. An injury to Tebow would spell disaster.

With Florida clearly out of the national championship equation, and with the team’s division and conference title hopes tenuous and fading, perhaps Meyer is making a Heisman Trophy push for his sophomore sensation. No sophomore has ever won college football’s most coveted award, although UF sophomore QB Rex Grossman came close, finishing second, and getting screwed out of the award in 2001.

Does Tebow have a shot at the Heisman? Let’s look at the record.

Against USC, Tebow set a single-game UF record with five rushing touchdowns and passed for a career-high 304 yards and a pair of touchdown passes against a defense that entered the game ranked number one nationally in pass defense (149.2 yards per game). He also rushed for 120 rushing yards becoming the only UF quarterback to have two 100-yard rushing games (166 yards rushing vs. Ole Miss). Tebow’s five touchdowns matches the highest total by any player nationally in a game this season.

Tebow’s 19 rushing touchdowns this year ties the Southeastern Conference record and is also the highest figure by any quarterback in SEC history. The 19 rushing TDs eclipses Emmitt Smith for the most by any UF player in a single year and is currently as many or more than 86 Division I-A teams. His 27 career rushing touchdowns are already the sixth-highest total in school history (36, Emmitt Smith, 1987-89). Tebow has accounted for 42 touchdowns this season, which is the highest single-season total in SEC history (the previous record was 41, set by Danny Wuerffel in 1996 (39 passes, 2 rushing).

Next up will be the national record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, currently 22 by Chance Harridge of the Air Force Academy.

Tebow’s passer rating of 177.1 is the second-highest in the nation and he has completed 67.8 percent of his passes, which ranks 12th nationally and is tops in the SEC. Thirteen Tebow passes have gone for 40-or-more yards this season, which is eight more than UF did all of last season.

I’m sure the Ol’ Ball Coach is seething at the notion that Meyer “ran up” the score. Whether or not that was Meyer’s intention is immaterial. History has shown us that Spurrier neither forgets or forgives those whom he perceives have slighted him. Ask Bill Curry about the embarrassing point totals racked up by Spurrier’s Gators against Curry’s Kentucky teams. Meyer may have won the battle, but it’s on now between him and Spurrier.

Next up is Florida Atlantic at the Swamp. More records should fall. Let’s hope for no injury to our quarterback.

As Always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

F L O R I D A    A T L A N T I C
Florida vs Florida Atlantic Game Summary

Not much to say about Florida’s 59-20 rout of Florida Atlantic, except that it was the same score that Florida routed Tennessee.

The mighty Owls rolled up nearly 400 yards on Florida’s beleaguered defense, including 331 passing yards. That UF won by 39 points seems miraculous.

All eyes continue to focus on UF’s sophomore sensation QB Tim Tebow. Number 15 became the first player in NCAA history to rush for 20 touchdowns and pass for 20 touchdowns in a single season. Tebow has passed for 2,870 yard and 26 touchdowns. He has rushed for 749 yards and 20 TDs. The national record for rushing TDs by a quarterback is 22. Tebow increased his SEC record for touchdown responsibility (46) and inched closer to Emmitt Smith’s school record for touchdowns scored (36).

Tebow’s prominence in the Heisman derby overshadowed the achievement of Andre Calwell, who became UF’s all-time receptions leader Saturday. Caldwell’s 179 career catches surpassed Gator great Carlos Alvarez, whose 172 receptions has been the standard since 1971.

The Gators are 8-3 and ranked #12 in both the BCS and AP football polls heading into this week’s home finale against 7-4 FSU. The Gators have won the last three versus FSU, which is enjoying yet another sub-par year. Well, maybe they’re not enjoying it, but I sure am… The Noles have lost to Clemson, Wake Forest, Miami and Virginia Tech, but have claimed unexpected wins against Boston College (when the Eagles were ranked #2) and Alabama.

FSU averages scoring 24 points per game, which is just under what Florida’s defense surrenders per game. The Gators average scoring 42 points per game, the Noles give up just 20.

No doubt FSU will pile up some passing yardage and some points on UF’s inexperienced secondary. As porous as it is, The Gator D has faced its share of capable offenses this season.

No doubt UF will also pileup yards and points on the Noles.

What makes me uneasy is FSU’s reputation for “playing to the echo of the whistle,” which is the PC way of saying” taking cheap shots at opposing quarterbacks.” Not that Tebow isn’t up to it, it is just ashamed that we have to worry that FSU will try to intentionally injure UF players. Don’t take my word for it, ask Steve Spurrier or Earnest Graham. FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews would consider it a major coup to knock out Tebow.

This should be an entertaining game if it doesn’t degenerate into an alley fight.

As Always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

F L O R I D A    S T A T E
Florida vs F S U Game Summary

Geno Hayes couldn’t do it. A broken hand couldn’t do it. FSU couldn’t do it. Nothing could stop Gator Quarterback Tim Tebow from engineering an impressive 45-12 victory over Florida State in The Swamp Saturday.

It is UF’s fourth straight win over arch-rival FSU and improves UF’s record to 9-3. FSU drops to 7-5. The Gators rank #10 in the latest AP and BCS football polls, and must wait for the bowl picture to clarify, before learning where and against whom it will play.

The night actually belonged to the Gator defense. This much maligned group held FSU out of the end zone all night, limiting the Noles to 289 total yards and only 188 passing yards. Most experts felt that FSU’s passing game would light up UF’s inexperienced secondary. Instead, FSU’s offensive highlight was a 60-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.

Geno Hayes –FSU’s tough-talking linebacker who promised “Tebow was going down” – had one tackle during the game. Tebow “went down” all right – down field, that is. Tebow led UF to scores on its first five possessions, including four touchdowns and a field goal.

FSU took the opening kick and drove downfield, settling for a field goal and a 3-0 lead. Tebow got UF on the scoreboard with a 23-yard run, and the pattern was set. UF did not punt in the first half, trading touchdowns for field goals enroute to a 24-12 lead.

The Gators expanded the margin to 31-12 on the opening drive of the third quarter during a 5-yard TD plunge by Tebow – a play in which the Gator superman sustained a non-displaced fracture of his right (non-throwing) hand. Playing with the fracture, Tebow threw a 31-yard scoring strike to Andre Caldwell in the 4th quarter. Percy Harvin, who had 154 yards rushing and 70 receiving yards in the game, burst up the middle for a 24-yard TD run to make the final 45-12.

Tebow is expected to be in a cast for two weeks and should be cleared to play in UF’s bowl game. Perhaps more interesting than the bowl picture will be whether Tebow becomes the first sophomore to win the Heisman trophy, given annually to the nation’s best college football player.

Rather than plead Tebow’s case here, I’ll save that for a juicy mid-December rant. Until then…

As always,

It’s Great to Be a Florida Gator

As Always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

S E C    C H A M P I O N S H I P
Florida vs Game Summary

As Always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

N A T I O N A L    C H A M P I O N S H I P
Florida vs Game Summary

As Always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator.

2005    2006