Odds and Ends: Tebow Leads Gators in Comeback

For all Tim Tebow's incredible accomplishments, there was one item missing on his resume. Tebow hadn't led his team to a fourth quarter comeback win. His critics liked to point to that, as well as the fact he hadn't led his team to a championship as a starting quarterback. Saturday night, he took care of both.

Alabama led 20-17 when Florida began the fourth quarter. The Crimson Tide had taken the lead on their second drive of the third quarter, one which saw them control the ball for 10:33 of clock time. It was clear Florida needed to both put points on the board and buy their defense some time to rest. Tebow proceeded to lead an 11-play, 62-yard march that gave Florida the lead for good with 9:21 remaining.

Just in case one critical fourth quarter drive wasn't enough to answer anyone with questions about Tebow's late game leadership, he tacked on another drive finished by a game sealing five yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper with 2:50 remaining. In the fourth quarter Tebow was 5-for-5 for 72 yards and a touchdown and picked up a critical third down conversion with a run as well.

"Every time they needed a play, Tim Tebow made a big play for them," said Alabama coach Nick Saban after the game.

There are three quarterbacks in the running for the Davey O'Brien Award this Thursday. That Tebow is not one of them is a total farce, but considering he has an SEC Championship Game MVP, a conference title and a shot at a national championship to go with it, I'm guessing he'll cope alright.


Tebow was so eager to start hitting someone he almost injured his own offensive coordinator. 45 minutes prior to kickoff, Tebow and Dan Mullen did their version of the "flying hip bump" celebration popular among athletes, especially during basketball warmups. Tebow blasted Mullen hard enough to send him crashing to the turf, legs sprawled in different directions. Although the landing was awkward, Mullen was able to laugh and dust himself off.


Coming into the SEC Championship, the question was which team could get the game to be at a pace to their liking. Alabama got the kind of game they needed, controlling the clock with lengthy drives and pounding the ball on the ground. That still wasn't enough for them to hold off the Gators.

Florida's offense was clearly hampered without star weapon Percy Harvin, as Alabama was largely able to keep the Gator tailbacks in check most of the game. Poor blocking on a number of plays by perimeter players only exacerbated the situation. By the fourth quarter, the offense adjusted and began successfully attacking with runs by Jeff Demps and Emmanuel Moody.


One decision by Urban Meyer stands out as particularly odd. Florida had stopped Alabama to force a punt. The Gators opted not to call timeout despite having all three remaining and there being 1:05 left on the clock. Alabama still had to punt, which Brandon James returned to Florida's 31 before they knelled down and went to the locker room.

Even though the Gators had a seven-point lead and were being conservative, it seems like that would have been good enough field position to at least see what you could do with a minute and two timeouts. Florida opened the third quarter with a three and out, meaning they got nothing out of having the ball on both sides of the break.


The single most important defensive play of the game was made by Jermaine Cunningham. The Gators had been unable to sack John Parker Wilson all afternoon, until the junior defensive end from nearby Stone Mountain came inside on a twist around Carlos Dunlap. The eleven yard sack on third and eight got the Gators the ball back for the drive which sealed Alabama's fate.


Everyone expects them to be there, but Florida will learn officially whether they're in the BCS Championship Game on Sunday night. The show begins on Fox at 8:00, with the official release of the final BCS numbers scheduled for 8:20. The coaches poll is typically out in the middle of the day, and will be one clear-cut indicator of if there's any possibility of a shocker.

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