Number One No Longer, Gators Shocked On The Plain

Florida Coach Steve Spurrier said following his team's 23-20 loss that Auburn was the best team on the field Saturday night.

Auburn, Ala.--It was the fourth quarter and Florida quarterback Rex Grossman was in an awkward place Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium. He was on the field trying to make plays to help the No. 1 Gators pull out a victory over the unranked and underdog Auburn Tigers.

In the Gators' first five games, Grossman was usually on the sidelines watching backup Brock Berlin carve up opposing teams during mop up duty late in the game. But Berlin didn't take a snap against the Tigers and Grossman wasn't making plays when it counted--he was making mistakes and his team was shocked 23-20 by the Tigers.

"I made a lot mistakes that cost us the ball game," Grossman said. The sophomore's fourth and final interception with 4:28 remaining in the game set up Auburn's game-winning drive for a 44-yard field goal. "I was actually trying to throw it away a little, it kind of slipped. We wasted too many opportunities." Auburn's Karlos Dansby picked off the pass and returned it to the AU 24-yard line.

Ten plays later the Tigers clinched the upset and Grossman might have seen the Gators' National Championship aspirations and his Heisman Trophy chances disappear." "They played pretty well," Grossman said. "But I think we let this one slip away."

Grossman had solid statistics like usual--364 yards passing and two touchdowns and his top two receivers, Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney, each had 100-yard receiving nights, but the Gator quarterback had not made that many mistakes yet this season and it cost his team dearly.

Gator quarterback Rex Grossman had four interceptions Saturday night.

"Auburn deserved to win," Florida Coach Steve Spurrier said. "They outhit us. They were tougher than us. They won the special teams battle and I guess they won the turnover battle."

The Tigers did win the turnover battle forcing five and giving away just two. Auburn knows all too well what happens to a team that turns the ball over five times. In its only loss of the season to Syracuse, the Tigers gave the ball away five times to the Orangemen.

Another area that the Tigers had more success than the Gators was the running game. Auburn had just 79 yards, but that was 115 more than Florida. That's not a typo. The Gators ended the game with negative 36 yards rushing. "They ran it a whole bunch better than us," Spurrier said. "Maybe the worst running attempts we've had in a long time." Spurrier is 91-2 when his team comes out on top of the running game. When they don't, Florida is just 26-24-1.

"We couldn't run the ball a lick," Spurrier said. "They stuffed us. They looked like the best team out there. We tried to throw the ball on every down, and that is difficult. We didn't do that very well." Florida's Robert Gillespie started in place of the Gators' leading rusher Earnest Graham, who sat out with an ankle injury. Gillespie netted just four yards on 12 carries.

"We just didn't go out there and perform like we know we can," Gillespie said. "The offense was sluggish, not just the running game. We just didn't make things happen." Gillespie credited Auburn's defensive front for shutting down the Gator ground game. His coach also said he didn't see too many holes to run through. Spurrier said he didn't know if Graham could have made a difference in the game or not.

"You have to give Auburn credit," the Florida coach said. "They were the best team tonight. They were the best team on the field. We'll try to come back if we can. We're not very tough. Maybe all the media attention got to us a little bit. Maybe we thought we could just show up. We got our butts kicked."

Reche Caldwell had nine catches for 128 yards and a touchdown Saturday night.

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