It Was Almost Déjà vu All Over Again

All season long people pointed to Arkansas as one of those potential "trap" games for the Florida Gators. The Hogs would come to Gainesville after Florida had played an emotional road game at LSU and it was a perfect spot for a letdown.

All week long I refuted that possibility. I brilliantly pointed out that while Ole Miss staggered into Gainesville with a pair of losses Arkansas was coming in on a roll with wins over Texas A&M and Auburn. Plus with the Gators having to struggle past LSU there was no way it would be a "trap" game.

It turns out I'm an idiot.

Saturday's game was eerily similar to the one last season in a number of ways. Against Ole Miss the Gators fumbled it five times, losing three. And the Gator defense, which had avoided the big play in the first four games, gave up several against the Rebels. Ole Miss took a one TD lead in the fourth quarter on an 86-yard pass from Jevan Snead to Shay Hodge. Arkansas actually took a lead into the final period but Florida tied it before a 75-yard pass to Greg Childs forced the Gators to rally again.

There were two big differences this time. First, Florida drove for a score and made the extra point to tie the score. When they got the ball back they were not stopped and instead drove for the winning points.

All in all Florida played its sloppiest game since even before that Ole Miss debacle and barely escaped with a 23-20 win over Arkansas. When you look at some of the numbers it defies logic that the Gators came out on top.
  • Minus-four turnovers
  • Six sacks of QB Tim Tebow
  • Four trips to the Red Zone that ended in FG attempts (3-for-4)
  • Three completed passes to receivers other than Cooper or Hernandez
Yet the Gators did what they had to do and managed to act out what hoops coach Billy Donovan says you try to do in the NCAA Tournament: survive and advance. Florida survived on a week where every contender was threatened and all but two managed to survive. Ohio State and Virginia Tech will disappear from the BCS discussion after suffering their second losses, but Texas, Alabama, Boise State, Cincinnati and Iowa all got through the weekend with perfect records intact.

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Last year the Gators lost eight fumbles in 14 games. This team has now lost nine in just six outings. The Gators will have to hold on to the ball the rest of the season in order to avoid being the "fumbling-est" team Urban Meyer has had at Florida. Right now the 2006 team holds that title, losing ten fumbles in 14 games.

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Urban Meyer is now 50-9 at Florida, matching the fewest number of games to reach 50 wins in SEC history. Alabama's legendary Frank Thomas (you thought I was going to type Bear Bryant, didn't you?) matched that mark. He's now 30-8 against teams in the SEC. He also has a chance to do something next week that he's never done. A win over Mississippi State would mark the first time Meyer's Gators will have gone 3-0 against the SEC West.

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Another record was set by Tim Tebow when he connected with Deonte Thompson on a 77-yard TD pass. It was his 75th TD pass of his career and when combined with his 48 rushing TD set an SEC mark for combined TD. His total of 123 is one better than Danny Wuerffel he threw for 114 and ran for eight in his career. He remains one rushing TD behind Herschel Walker (49) for the SEC record in that category. Wouldn't it be appropriate that he set the mark in his home town of Jacksonville in two weeks?


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