It was an early and, in retrospect, an overall beatdown and domination of the Criminoles in Taliban City, helping to take away most of the stench of last year’s embarrassment at the Swamp. The 37-26 final score is not indicative of the difference in quality of these two teams.
Florida handled it’s business again, showing the nation and the in-state recruits that the Gators are back on top of the state in a big way, with more to come. Even with the disappointing 3rd quarter that gave F$U a false sense of hope, Florida maintained it’s composure, relying on the crucible of playing the best teams in the country both at home and on the road to physically and emotionally crush the weak-ass ACC’s best team……what a joke. In retrospect, it was even better to watch that false sense of hope get snapped away from F$U and it’s “fans”. Chop that!
It was gut-check time in the 3rd quarter after an uncharacteristically poor punt by Kyle Christy and then a fumbled exchange between Jeff Driskel and Mike Gillislee allowed F$U easy points and the illusion that it had a chance. That just made it all the sweeter to make then feel the pain of having their will taken away from them and wilting against a legitimate opponent – an SEC opponent, not someone from the Almost Competitive Conference.
The offensive game plan was exactly what was needed. A lot of early throws and rollouts to protect Driskel early and loosen up the defensive front seven, then going to work pounding away with 6 and sometime 7 OL, with the Criminoles not being able to do a thing about it. Gillislee went over 1,000 yards for the season, providing the exclamation point to both the game and his entire season with his TD run that gave Florida the lead for good. Shame on the Dazzler and the Cheeseburger for ignoring this guy. Driskel was efficient and tough as nails, playing through a painful ankle injury and going the distance and leading his team. Great blocking by the OL, with special mention to Xavier Nixon – the X-Man had a great game, and showed what he (and the entire OL) could do if healthy. The WRs played tough and blocked well, and also provided some clutch yards after the catch. Big time 3rd-and-long catch and run by Jordan Reed near the end of the 3rd quarter to set up Caleb Sturgis’ 3rd FG and open the floodgates. Total dominance of time of possession, and a score that should have been a lot worse, given the blown TD opportunity on the fake FG attempt in the 1st quarter and the 3rd quarter troubles.
The defense owned the LOS all night, and shut down the F$U running game less some scrambles by one of Florida’s MVPs – EJ Manuel – who once again shrunk against the Gator defense and was exposed for the mediocre passer he is. Between him and Dumbo Fisher, Dan Quinn and Will Muschamp knew going in they had a distinct advantage. The Criminoles never put together a decent scoring drive, and Florida brought the pain all night, especially the crushing hit by Tank Morrison on Manuel that knocked him out of the game temporarily, and really switched the momentum completely back to Florida. Another super effort from Sharrif Floyd, who wreaked havoc at the LOS in likely his next-to-last college game before going to the NFL as a 1st-round draft pick. The Gator secondary was excellent, making plays, tackling well, getting turnovers, and not allowing any consistent drives through the air.
Florida finishes 2012 11-1 and #3 in the BCS rankings, just missing out on the BCSCG due to Notre Shame’s unbelievable luck and an unfortunate turnover-filled game against overrated Georgia, which is definitely more than most had hoped for or predicted. A likely Sugar Bowl reward awaits a team that by the end of the season could stand toe-to-toe with anyone. Tremendous physical toughness and emotional resolve all season, a reflection of the great job by the coaching and strength and conditioning staffs.
Quite the fast flip from 2010, and real hope for the future and proof that Muschamp can get it done in the SEC. See you soon with the bowl preview.
What a great season! As always, it’s great to be a Florida Gator!