The 2012 Florida Gators football team has surprised its fan base, the rest of the SEC and now with its first top 10 ranking in two years, the program has announced its ascent to the rest of the nation. After then-No. 8 Stanford lost to Washington over the weekend, the Gators were able to seal up that coveted No. 10 spot despite taking the weekend off to rest with a bye week.
Now that that bye is out of the way, and now that the No. 4 LSU Tigers have dispatched of FCS opponent Towson in not-so-convincing fashion, the buildup can officially begin in what will be the first matchup between two top-ten teams in Gainesville since 2006.
The same two programs that will face each other on Oct. 6 were the two to have battled it out six years ago on Oct. 7.
Thus, in an effort to facilitate the excitement that is sure to reach a fever pitch at 3:30 pm on CBS, Gator Country is tossing its fans into the not-so-way-back-machine for this one and taking a look at how Urban Meyer’s Gators, led by freshman sensation and now New York Jets playmaker Tim Tebow, de-clawed the Tigers en route to a 6-0 start to the season and an eventual national championship.
Florida Gator fans have enjoyed a number of spectacular plays en route to boasting one of the most storied college football programs of all time.
From John Reaves, to Steve Spurrier, to Danny Wuerffel and Chris Leak, national records have been broken, conference and national championships have been won, and prestigious awards have been received.
Then there’s Tim Tebow.
The man with the plan provided a generation of Gators fans with a lifetime of championship memories, but it all started with just one play.
It was in the Gators’ most recent duel of top-ten teams that with one jump and one pass, Tebow launched himself into the national conversation, and into our hearts.
After fifteen minutes of gameplay, the score was knotted at seven-apiece. Urban Meyer’s vaunted offensive schematics had butted up against a great wall of LSU defensemen. Unlike many of the other games the Gators would play and win during the 2006 season, this one was beginning to look like a battle of attrition. Like a political debate, this was a battle of two heavyweights bent on making the other look bad without actually making any real headway themselves. Neither team was showing anything, waiting for the other to shoot themselves in the foot.
That would change soon enough, as the Tigers, Gators teammates and fans, and the world got one of its very first tastes of Tebow Time.
Running the two-minute drill to end the first half against an LSU defensive unit loaded with NFL-caliber talent, four-year starter and UF’s all-time passing yard leader, Chris Leak, took care of business. He drove his Gators from their own 28 yard-line the entire length of the field in a mere seven plays to the Tiger’s four yard line.
There was no quarterback controversy at Florida, but unfortunately for LSU there was a two-headed monster. The young freshman trotted onto the field with 90,000 fans screaming all around him, practically shaking the very earth under his feet.
However, with all of Gator Nation expecting a prompt touchdown and a lead going into halftime, “The Chosen One” was stuffed at the one yard line.
With only 28 seconds remaining in the half, there was a decision to be made.
Tebow had been using his left arm almost exclusively for stiff-arming opponents to that point in his extremely young career. Thus, everyone in the sporting universe, including Miles’ well-prepared Bayou Bengals, had been expecting another battering-ram attempt into the end zone.
Meyer had other plans, however, and every Florida fan with a pulse knows what happens next.
“You’ve got to be creative in this league,” Meyer would explain later.
A snap, a few steps, and a hesitation. Only then do the Tigers, already beaten on this play, even have a clue to what is already unfolding right in front of them.
After the hesitation, there’s the jump—nay, a spring, a surge, a leap towards destiny, and finally, a toss, falling lightly, gently into the waiting arms of Tate Casey.
The big man cradled that ball like he had never caught a pass before.
Tebow, surrounded by his Gators brethren, cantered into the tunnel towards the locker room for halftime.
The rest is history.
This weekend, Gators’ true sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel has the opportunity to lead his team to yet another victory over LSU in yet another matchup of two top-ten SEC opponents.
While he may not jump or attempt to crash through the line of scrimmage in the manner that became Tebow’s trademark, but what is so exciting about this Oct. 6 matchup is fact that Driskel and his teammates get to write their own version of the latest chapter in the great history of the Florida Gators football program.