Gator News and World Report (12/3/2006)

The Gator News and World Report for Sunday, December 3, 2006. No. 4 Florida in title picture after defeating Arkansas for SEC crown; Nutt: Muffed punt was key; Two touchdown day makes Harvin MVP; Turnover Gave Gators Momentum; Title Door Opens for Florida, Michigan; UF awaits word on title game; Meyer's risky call becomes stroke of genius; For Gators, a good end to a long evening and more...

Florida Gator Football

No. 4 Florida in title picture after defeating Arkansas for SEC crown
Halfway through the Southeastern Conference title game, Florida knew it had a shot at playing for an even bigger championship.

Saturday was about winning a championship
It will be a nervous day for the Gator Nation. But that's perfect. After all, hasn't the season worked your last nerve?

12 wins, SEC title for UF
The six-year drought is over. The Florida Gators are champions again, rulers of their world in the SEC for first time since 2000.

Gators win SEC Crown
The celebration had spilled from the field to the locker room, but then it was spilling back. Dallas Baker, down to his undershirt and football pants, came running back onto the Georgia Dome surface followed by the happiest team in the nation Saturday night.

Harvin delivers again for UF
Percy Harvin trotted off the field inside the Georgia Dome late Saturday night with a pair of gloves in one hand and an SEC Championship Most Valuable Player trophy in the other.

Nutt: Muffed punt was key
On the game: "I'm just proud of our guys for never giving up. We always held the rope. I really thought the momentum in the third quarter, we really had it there. They took it back on the muffed punt."

Smackdown by UF
The consensus heading into Saturday night's SEC title game was it really didn't matter how many Florida defenders crowded the line of scrimmage to try and slow down Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden. The game-breaking sophomore would make plays and get yards.

Commissioner also politicks
The politicking began at halftime. With Florida ahead 17-7 and USC just suffering an upset at UCLA, Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive made the case for the SEC title-game champion belonging in the BCS title game.

Pivotal plays on special teams
The play is called Blitz Set Nine. It's a fake punt Florida ran successfully last year at Alabama. When Urban Meyer called the play late in the third quarter of Saturday's SEC Championship game as his team was backed deep in its own territory, Jemalle Cornelius wasn't too surprised.

SEC champs ... and more?
Florida is the 2006 Southeastern Conference champion. That's for sure. But will the Gators - who beat Arkansas 38-28 at the Georgia Dome on Saturday night to win the program's seventh SEC title - have a chance to be national champions? That's still uncertain.

UF's special teams are the difference
As crazy as the play seemed, it worked. Trailing by four points during the third quarter of Saturday night's Southeastern Conference title game, Florida faced a fourth-and-10 from its 15-yard line in what seemed like an obvious punting situation.

Two touchdown day makes Harvin MVP
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt joked about Percy Harvin before Saturday night's Southeastern Conference championship game.

Joiner injures foot early
Senior strong safety Tony Joiner suffered a serious foot injury in the first quarter and sat out the rest of the game. Joiner was in on a gang-tackle of Arkansas running back Darren McFadden when teammate defensive end Jarvis Moss rolled onto his leg. Joiner could not put any weight on his right foot and had to be helped from the field.

Making Their Bid
As Ted Lewis rode an elevator down to the floor level of the Georgia Dome late Saturday night, the New Orleans Times-Picayune sportswriter pondered the fate of the University of Florida football team. It's a fate Lewis holds partially in his hands.

Turnover Gave Gators Momentum
If it had been up to Florida coach Urban Meyer, the biggest play of Saturday's

Title Door Opens for Florida, Michigan
Michigan or Florida? One will play Ohio State in the BCS championship game. The other will be ticked off at the maddeningly imperfect system used to crown a major college football champion. One thing's for sure, a Saturday stunner shook up the Bowl Championship Series and made selection Sunday a whole lot more interesting.

With apologies to John Lennon: All we are saying is give peace -- and the Florida Gators -- a chance. They have earned it. The Gators are Southeastern Conference champions by virtue of a 38-28 victory against Arkansas on Saturday.

UF awaits word on title game
And now, well . . . what now? One of the craziest five hours college football ever has seen ended Saturday night with Florida players, coaches and fans torn between unadulterated joy about the present and utter uncertainty about the future.

Meyer's risky call becomes stroke of genius
Florida or Michigan? Only the computers, the Harris poll, a few coaches and fire-breathing hordes of Gators and Wolverines fans know for sure. And those last two groups never will agree.

Florida's fate now in hands of BCS voters
The Florida Gators are the Southeastern Conference champions. That's about the only thing they know for sure.

After squandering a 10-point, third-quarter lead, Florida rallied to beat Arkansas 38-28 at the Georgia Dome to win the program's first Southeastern Conference championship since 2000. Freshman Percy Harvin won Most Valuable Player honors with 167 yards of offense, a 37-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter and a 67-yard TD run in the fourth. Florida's special teams helped, too, blocking a second-quarter punt to set up a touchdown, and recovering an Arkansas muff in the third quarter for another score.

UF wins SEC title
Percy Harvin scored two touchdowns, and the Gators, who won their first conference title since 2000, have a shot at playing in the national title game after No. 2 USC lost to UCLA.

For Gators, a good end to a long evening
What is it football coaches are always saying about knowing time and situation? Saturday, 6:47 p.m.: UCLA kicks a 22-yard field goal to take a 10-9 lead on massive favorite USC. Gators hold a 3-0 lead against Arkansas in the SEC Championship.

UF's Harvin shines in SEC title win
Percy Harvin's versatility as a running back or a receiving option allowed him to total 167 yards and claim the MVP award in the SEC title game.

Leaks gets elusive championship
Chris Leak no longer will be known as a quarterback who can't win the big game. 'I can't describe the emotions,' Leak said.

SEC commish making his case
It's not easy being Mike Slive these days. He is the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, and he is also the coordinator of the Bowl Championship Series.

Commentary: Gators deserve shot at BCS title
Why not Florida in the national championship game? The way Saturday's shocking dominoes fell, with the USC Trojans choking away a BCS title shot out west and the Gators slithering out of an SEC sinkhole with a 38-28 win over Arkansas, that same crazy question from 1996 is upon us again.

Hetland's field goal breaks ice for UF
Florida's struggling kicker Chris Hetland received the best birthday present he could have asked for - a field goal of more than 30 yards.

Freshman WR Harvin has MVP performance
Arkansas' Darren McFadden should be an easy choice for the SEC's player of the year. But Saturday, at the league's showcase game, McFadden was upstaged by a freshman whose performance is the reason every Gator from Key West to Pensacola anxiously awaits the result of BCS tabulations that will decide whether Florida plays for a national championship or in the Sugar Bowl.

Florida Gator Basketball

Gators wary of 'Noles
If Florida had any lulls in practice this week preparing for Florida State, all Coach Billy Donovan needed to do was remind his team of its start against the rival Seminoles a season ago.

UF next big test for FSU
Consecutive games against three of the nation's top basketball programs provided Florida State with a chance to establish itself as a worthy player on the national scene.

FSU looks for answers against Florida
Back-to-back losses to ranked opponents left the Florida State men's basketball team searching for answers -and a crucial marquee non-conference win.

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