When the final score flashed on one of the Gators' lower-level scoreboards, a dull batch of boos spread across the crowd.
Had the Wildcats won their game, which ended during the first half of Florida's showdown, the Gators would have clinched a slot in the Southeastern Conference championship game.
No such luck, though. Coach Ron Zook said he didn't know about the result until the post-game press conference – although he was able to make an assumption.
"I guess a thought went through my mind in the fourth quarter," Coach Ron Zook said. "I figured I would have heard something [if Tennessee lost]. But we were worried about one thing during the game. We prepared for this game and this game alone. I think our players did a good job of staying away from that. "
BOWLING FOR BIDS
Monday's BCS rankings likely will play the deciding factor in Florida's post-season fate.
Should everything work out as expected, though, the Gators have the highest chance of winding up in Atlanta for the Peach Bowl against Clemson.
Unless more than one SEC team ends up playing in a BCS bowl – an unlikely scenario – the Gators would be the third team after the BCS selection in line looking for a bid, a spot which usually snags an invite from the Peach Bowl.
"We don't have to wait for the BCS to announce its teams," Peach Bowl Team Selection Chairman Bruce Poli said. "As soon as they release teams to us, we can make our selections. That can happen this next week."
TROUPE RULES IN FINALE
In his final home game, tight end Ben Troupe continued to raise his NFL stock as the end of his collegiate career looms.
The senior set new career-highs with 121 receiving yards and two touchdown catches. All four of Troupe's receptions were for more than 20 yards as he was just one yard shy of breaking the single-game school record by a tight end.
Troupe's 25-yard touchdown catch with 2:50 remaining in the game gave the Gators a 34-31 lead – seemingly the game-winning catch.
"It was heartbreaking," Troupe said. "But I never expected it to be the game winner. I knew there was still a lot of ball to be played.'"
Although sophomore Ciatrick Fason made an unexpected start at tailback Saturday, it was senior Ran Carthon who had the biggest impact. Carthon finished the game with 62 yards on 13 carries, while Fason had just 21 yards on 8 carries.
Against South Carolina, Fason finished with 190 yards, earning him the starting nod. At halftime of Saturday's game though, the sophomore had just 7 yards on 5 carries. Florida's rushing game was limited to just 25 yards.
In a rare instance, Zook finally orchestrated one of his most successful trick plays of his tenure. The play, called "reptile", involved a screen pass to wide receiver Andre Caldwell who then passed it back to quarterback Chris Leak. Leak then carried the reception 30 yards.
"That was a little something the coaches put together," said Caldwell, who moved to quarterback from wide receiver his senior year of high school. "Chris actually was my second receiver on that play, but he was the one who got open. I've been looking forward to that play all season."
On the following play, Leak hit Troupe for a 25-yard touchdown pass.
In its traditional fashion, Florida honored its 22-member senior class before the start of Saturday's game.
CB Keiwan Ratliff and TE Ben Troupe, two seniors who have become trademarks of the Gators' squad, drew the crowd's biggest applause.
Florida's departing Gators finished their career with a 19-6 record in The Swamp and currently have an overall record of 36-14 (26-6 Southeastern Conference).
Florida cornerback Keiwan Ratliff scored his fourth non-offensive touchdown Saturday when he returned a fumble 77 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. Two of his scores came off of interceptions, while the other pair came from fumble recoveries….Leak threw a career-high 273 yards on 36 attempts. That's the second-most by a true freshman in school history. The record is held by Wayne Peace, who threw 282 yards in 1980….Punter Eric Wilbur, of Winter Park, tied the school record Saturday for punts by a freshman with 57…Leak moved up to second place in the SEC record books in three different categories: completions (168), yards (2,167) and touchdowns (14). ###