Gators Make Case For Fiesta

ATLANTA -- Seconds before the Florida band took the field during halftime on Saturday, the partisan Gators crowd erupted in celebration inside the Georgia Dome. They weren't cheering for the band.

It was during halftime that word of the University of Southern California's 13-9 loss to UCLA began filtering through the stadium. The Trojans were ranked No. 2 in the Bowl Championship Series standings before Saturday, while the Gators were No. 4 behind Michigan. Florida coach Urban Meyer had politicked during the past week that if the Gators defeated Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, his team should jump the Wolverines and play in the BCS Championship Game against No. 1 Ohio State. The Buckeyes earlier defeated Michigan. After a 38-28 win over the Razorbacks on Saturday, Meyer restated his case for the Gators when asked if Florida belonged in the Fiesta Bowl. "We certainly do," Meyer said. "Florida belongs. "(Michigan) had a shot, and we went 12-1, and I think the country wants to see the Southeastern Conference champion against the Big 10 champion. "I think that's what this is all about." Arkansas coach Houston Nutt agreed. "This is the toughest conference in America," Nutt said. "And if we were sitting on the other side, we would be saying, 'Absolutely.' "So, I wish them all the best and hope they have an opportunity to go." Florida did its best to make a case for jumping Michigan, led by the game's most valuable player Percy Harvin, the first true freshman to earn the award since Louisiana State's Justin Vincent in 2003. Harvin finished with 5 catches for 62 yards and a touchdown, and he ran 6 times for 106 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Both Michigan and Florida have one loss, with the Wolverines losing in Columbus, Ohio, and the Gators at Auburn. Meyer is counting on the polls and computers to add up to blue and orange. "I have great respect for college football," Meyer said. "I'm a fan of college football. I think the country is a fan of college football, and I'm glad they got to watch a great football game tonight. "I have great confidence that the University of Florida is going to get that opportunity, I really do."

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