Gators Win Physical Gator Bowl

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. • Florida's special teams came up big in the Gator Bowl, scoring twice as the Gators beat Ohio State 24-17 on Monday in a game between Urban Meyer's old team and his future one. Andre Debose returned a kickoff 99 yards — the longest scoring play in bowl history — and Chris Rainey blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown.

The speedsters helped the Gators (7-6) avoid their first losing season since 1979 and pick up some much-needed momentum after losing six of their previous eight games.

Ohio State (6-7) finished below .500 for the first time since 1986. The Buckeyes can take solace in knowing that Meyer, who officially takes over at Ohio State this week, will make it a priority to improve special teams. Meyer did that in his six seasons in Gainesville, and Rainey and Debose were two of his most prized recruits.

Ohio State fell to 0-10 in bowl games against teams from the Southeastern Conference. Yes, the Buckeyes beat Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl last year. But that victory was vacated.

The latest loss had everything to do with Florida's speed.

The Gators dominated the defensive line of scrimmage. They had a season-high six sacks, harassing Braxton Miller on nearly every passing play. Jaye Howard and Sharrif Floyd were disruptive all afternoon.

Florida had similar success the last time it played Ohio State. The Gators were dominant on defense in a 41-14 win in the 2007 Bowl Championship Series national title game in Glendale, Ariz.


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