UF/FSU: Odds and Ends

There are still questions to be answered about Florida's bowl situation, but where Florida will play appears pretty clear. The Gators are likely bound for the Capital One Bowl in Orlando to face a Big Ten opponent.

That could be former Gator coach Ron Zook and Illinois or it could be a team farther down the Big Ten pecking order, likely Michigan. The BCS dreams for Florida almost certainly died with Kentucky's failed two point conversion in overtime four of their loss to Tennessee.

With that win, Tennessee advances to the SEC Championship game as Eastern division champ. Either they or LSU will be guaranteed a berth in the Sugar Bowl.

Georgia, having beaten Georgia Tech to wrap up their schedule and with no more games remaining, should end up in the top four when the final edition of the BCS comes out in two weeks. Should that be the case, they are guaranteed a BCS spot. Since no conference is allowed more than two, Florida would be shut out of the BCS even though there would likely be interest from the Orange Bowl in having them to face the ACC champion.

There's been speculation Florida might not want to see Illinois and Zook in a bowl to avoid rehashing the circumstances that led to his dismissal at UF, but according to Florida Citrus Sports Executive Director Steve Hogan that is not the case.

"I've not heard one concern from Illinois or Florida about playing each other," says Hogan.

It will take another week for the Big Ten's bowl situation to clear up, thanks to the upsets in college football this weekend. Ohio State would likely reach the BCS Championship game if Oklahoma wins the Big 12 title game next week, which would send Illinois to the Rose Bowl as their replacement.

Since Wisconsin has been to the Capital One each of the past two years, they would likely not be invited again, meaning Michigan will be Florida's opponent in the game if that scenario occurs. Florida's most recent visit to Orlando came after the 1999 season, when they lost to Michigan State on a last second field goal.


Tennessee and Kentucky both had chances to stop Tim Tebow's Heisman momentum this season and failed as he torched them for huge numbers. They may have inadvertently hurt his chances Saturday, though. Because the Volunteers and Wildcats game dragged through four overtimes, no one outside the state of Florida got the opportunity to see Tebow lead Florida's first three scoring drives.

CBS finally joined the Gator game around the country with 5:45 remaining in the first half. There's no way to tell yet what impact it may have on Tebow's chance at the Heisman that voters didn't get to see all of him making his final case for the award, but the bad luck coming the day after Darren McFadden had a three overtime showcase on CBS certainly didn't help.


Every week Tim Tebow sets some new offensive records, and this game was no exception. He broke Rex Grossman's school record for total offense of 3904 yards set in 2001. Tebow is currently at 3,970 total yards and has been involved in 51 touchdowns. Tebow also has run and passed for a touchdown in 13 straight games.

UF's research has not found another quarterback who has ever done that. He's also tied for the single season rushing touchdown record for a quarterback, equaling Air Force's Chance Harridge with 22.


One of the benchmarks for young players is whether they learn from their mistakes. When asked to produce in a critical spot against Auburn in week five of the season, freshman punter Chas Henry had a moment to forget. He shanked a 25 yard punt that set Auburn up with good field position for their winning drive.

In critical moments against FSU, Henry could not have performed better. When Florida's offense finally stalled on back-to-back possessions in the second half, Henry hit both resulting punts perfectly, putting FSU's offense in nearly impossible situations as they tried to mount a comeback.

Henry's first punt was a soaring 36 yard spiral which came down perfectly for Louis Murphy to catch in the air at the FSU 2. The next punt was a 54-yarder that hit near the sideline to be unreturnable and rolled dead at the Seminoles' 3.

Another youngster who stood out was freshman defensive end Justin Trattou. Urban Meyer specifically praised him after the game.

"Justin Trattou's going to be a phenomenal football player.... I think that's one of the first times I've noticed the defense growing up on us out there," Meyer said. "Trattou and Spikes... some guys are playing very well."

Trattou had a key pressure on a 3rd-and-8 play in the second half that forced FSU quarterback Drew Weatherford to throw underneath to De'Cody Fagg for a minimal gain. FSU than had to punt.


Urban Meyer restored Tony Joner's captain status for the senior safety's final home game in Gainesville. According to Meyer, Joiner's not guaranteed to be a captain for the bowl game and will be evaluated on his conduct between now and then.

His roommate Tim Tebow could sense the difference.

"I know it means a lot to him," Tebow said. "That was the most I've ever seen him fired up before that game."


Andre Caldwell had told people prior to his final home game that if he scored a touchdown, he was going to throw the ball into the crowd. He wasn't kidding.

Caldwell played quarterback in high school, and he showed off his arm by firing a pass deep into the stands after catching a touchdown to make it 38-12. Urban Meyer wasn't thrilled with the display bringing a 15-yard penalty, but Caldwell let him know there was a reason for it.

"I told him it was my last game at The Swamp and he let it go," Caldwell said. "Carlos Alvarez did it in his last game in The Swamp. Travis McGriff did it, too."


Florida didn't make things simple for themselves when it came to penalties. They were flagged 11 times for 90 yards, with none more costly than a holding call on Cade Holliday that nullified a Brandon James kickoff return for a touchdown to start the second half.

Despite the inefficiency, the Gators consistently overcame the errors to put points on the board. They went 81 yards in six plays to get the James touchdown right back, for example. FSU certainly couldn't complain about having SEC referees work the games in Gainesville as they only picked up three penalties on the day.


There were a lot of good moments for Florida State in the '80s, but they revisited some unpleasant memories against UF. The Seminoles failed to score an offensive touchdown against the Gators for the first time since 1985. That day Deion Sanders returned two punts for scores. It had been 1981 since FSU failed to find the end zone at all against Florida.


Former 1989 interim Gator head coach Gary Darnell has rejoined the interim head coaching ranks again. He's been serving as Texas A&M defensive coordinator and was named to fill in while the school looks for a replacement for the departed Dennis Franchione.

While some in College Station have tried to throw Steve Spurrier's name around as a possible candidate for the job, history does not seem likely to repeat itself with him replacing Darnell as the permanent head man.

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