Coach Will Muschamp and his Florida Gators have successfully gone into the heart of enemy territory and come out of Tallahassee with a hard-fought, 37-26, win over the Seminoles of Florida State.
Mike Gillisee, the man who waited three long years behind various ballcarriers before finally getting his chance to shine in his final campaign, blew away the nation’s top-ranked defense in yet another superstar performance when his team needed it the most.
Against the college football powerhouse that is LSU, Gillislee took 34 carries for 146 yards and two scores. That game announced the Gators’ presence on the national stage.
Gilly’s 24 carries for 140 yards and two more touchdowns on Saturday night once again helped the Gators announce their presence, only this time to the BCS pollsters and computers.
Quarterback Jeff Driskel returned from a sprained ankle that forced him to miss the team’s win over Jacksonville State a week ago to throw for 147 yards and a score on 15-of-23 passing. He was up against the nation’s most prolific pass rushing defensive line, led by Bronko Nagurski Award finalist Bjoern Werner, and while he was harassed all afternoon, his teammates picked him up.
Especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Cornerback Marcus Roberson, linebacker Jelani Jenkins and star safety Matt Elam each recorded an interception of fifth year senior EJ Manuel, who once again fell far short of the sky-high expectations his fans had held for him.
The Gators scored 24 unanswered fourth-quarter points to earn annual bragging rights in this Sunshine State Rivalry. The team has put itself in fantastic position to represent its conference in one of the most prestigious postseason bowl games in the nation, while completing one of the most dramatic year-to-year turnarounds in the nation.
After going a mere 7-6 a season ago, losing that many games for the first time since 1987, the Florida Gators are back to their rightful place amongst the nation’s elite in only Muschamp’s second year at the helm.
The program has done it the right way: Tough run game, spectacular defense and above all, the absolute will to win one finds in all champions.
On Saturday, that was exactly what the Gators showed against their perennially disappointing rivals.
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