Saturday, November 1, 2008

Florida 49, Georgia 10

Stomp on that, Coach Pea Brain.

Florida's defense stopped The Hurdling Running Back (18 carries for 68 yards) and made The Human Arm realize that a brain is also nice. (18 of 33, 268 yards, three interceptions) The offense adeptly handled the great field position granted by the defense and Tim Tebow launched himself back into the Heisman conversation. (10 of 13, 148 yards, two TDs, plus three rushing touchdowns)

It was, in short, an almost perfect piece of revenge for last year's Cocktail Party disaster. The Gators got some help from Georgia and the officials; the Bulldogs missed two field goals, both relative chip shots, and Stafford's interceptions came on some silly throws.

UF's secondary scuffled at points, those three interceptions notwithstanding. Stafford threw for 268 yards and Georgia gained 295 total through the air. Major Wright botched a handful of plays, one of which resulted in Georgia converting a 3rd and 19. Mohamed Massaquoi routinely abused Joe Haden, and the Gators showed no desire to cover a handful of Georgia tight ends.

It's also worth pointing out that very little of what I predicted Friday came true. It wasn't a shootout (a shootout requires two participants), Urban Meyer didn't break out any gadget plays, the running game wasn't particularly dynamic (they picked up 178 yards on the ground, and 65 of those came from Emmanuel Moody in garbage time) and he certainly didn't use any I-formation plays. I'm OK with being wrong.

The back-breaking play was Joe Haden's interception in the third quarter, Florida's first of the game and the first time the Gators showed any ability to stop Stafford. Leading 14-3, the Gators were forced to punt after Brandon James dropped an eminently catchable third down pass. Though Florida pinned Georgia on its own two-yard line, the Bulldogs drove down the field with relative ease, Stafford completing pass after pass to wide open receivers.

Haden reversed the momentum of the game by slipping inside of Green at the 11-yard line and intercepting Stafford's throw. Haden ran 80 yards before being knocked out of bounds at Georgia's one. Tebow plowed in on the very next play, giving Florida a 21-3 lead.

The Bulldogs never seriously threatened after that point. Florida forced a three and out and Tebow responded by hitting Louis Murphy on a 44-yard TD pass. Down 28-3, Knowshon Moreno fumbled a toss on the next drive. Florida recovered, and defensive tackle Terron "Barry" Sanders did some nifty scoopin' and spinnin' to take the ball to Georgia's seven-yard line. Tebow scored on the next play, and the rout was on.

Florida is 5-1 in the conference. The task is pretty clear right now: win next week at Vanderbilt, clinch a berth in the SEC Championship game. Period, end of story. The game's in Nashville, and the Commodores always seem to annoy Florida, so Meyer would be advised to take this one seriously.

The national championship picture is more convoluted. Three undefeated teams stand ahead of the Gators, and Penn State has few challenges left on the schedule. Texas has tonight's game against Texas Tech and a Big XII championship game left to play. And the Gators are going to have a shot to knock off the undefeated Crimson Tide.

The biggest test on Florida's schedule looks to be Florida State. The Seminoles lost today and they don't have UF's talent, but the game's in Tallahassee and it would make FSU's year to ruin Florida's shot at a title.

All of that's in the future. The present, on the other hand, is pretty spectacular.

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