Now THAT'S What a No. 1 Team Looks Like

Many were critical of the Gator Football team this week, myself included despite the fact that Florida was ranked No. 1 in all the pools and undefeated after the first seven games of the season.

Florida quieted that criticism and then some with a dominating 41-17 win over the Georgia Bulldogs that goes a long way to allaying many of the concerns about this team.

Florida had become a turnover plagues team in SEC play giving the ball back ten times against SEC competition. They did not turn it over in Jacksonville. Florida has been mediocre in forcing turnovers with eight in five SEC games but stepped up with four interceptions of Georgia QBs to pull away for the win.

The Gators didn't get a chance to work much on its Red zone offense in this one, choosing instead to score from more than 20 yards out on three of their four offensive touchdowns and a remarkable 56-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis. Even there, the Gators did cash in their only Red zone possession with Tim Tebow running it in from five yards out.

I thought one of the biggest plays of the game is one that very few people will talk about. It came in the second quarter when Georgia had rallied from down 14-0 to a 14-10 score and the Gators were facing 3rd-and-16 from their own 30-yard line. The Bulldogs fans were ready to explode and the momentum of the game was clearly changing. Tebow flipped the ball to Aaron Hernandez who ran over and through three Georgia defenders for a 17 yard gain and a first down. That led to the Sturgis field goal and kept the Bulldogs from seizing the upper hand.


This was easily Tebow's best game of the season and the biggest reason is he got rid of the ball. When Georgia blitzed he flipped the ball to an underneath receiver. When he decided to run he didn't change his mind – well, he did once but only once. Tebow made several important throws but also made several good decisions to give up on a play that wasn't working and move on to another one. His 235 yards and four TD are not overwhelming stats, but they were effective and meaningful.


A.J. Jones is a guy who got a lot of praise from the coaches during the pre-season but frankly had not done a whole lot this year. Boy did that change in Jacksonville. Jones batted a pass and intercepted it early in the third quarter, setting the Gators up at the Georgia 19. Three plays later Tebow was in the end zone and the Gators were up 31-10.


Tim Tebow set an SEC record for career rushing TDs when he scored from 23 yards out in the second quarter. He added another in the third for 51 rushing scores in his Florida career. Now Georgia folks will argue that Herschel Walker really should have 54 rushing TDs to his credit since he scored five in bowl games that do not count, but Tim's two rushing TD in bowl games do count. You know what? They're right. But is there anyone who doesn't think No. 15 will get three more in his career? Shoot, he might get them next week against Vandy.


As I write this we don't know if the Gators have clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game, but we know they'll be in it. It's inconceivable that Vandy (0-5 in the SEC) is going to know the Gators off at home. They haven't beaten Florida since 1988 and that won't be changing. It'll be Florida's 10th SEC Title Game in 18 years.

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