A 13-game run through the nation’s toughest schedule had the Gators in a very difficult position last in the third quarter. Florida had let a 17-nothing lead get away, surrendering 21 unanswered points to the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The Gators had burned a pair of time outs AND used up a faker kick and were looking at fourth and short from their own 41-yard line. Urban Meyer used his third and final time out to pick the play to go for it.
But during the time out Meyer reconsidered the predicament he might be putting his defense into and elected to punt. It was the most ridiculous waste of a time out I have ever seen —– for about ten seconds.
Eric Wilbur launched his punt of the night and Arkansas return man Reggie Fish inexplicably retreated to try and make an over-the-shoulder catch at his own two yards line. When Wondy Pierre-Louis fell on the ball in the end zone the Gators had not only reclaimed the lead, but they had ended a terrible stretch of play that was nauseatingly reminiscent of last week’s third quarter against Florida State.
Great Drive for a Ring, and a legacy
Arkansas would not give up and got everyone anxious with 12:29 to play when a double pass was perfectly executed to once again move the Hogs within three points at 31-28. The ensuing kickoff was downed in the end zone for a touchback and the Gators had the ball at their own 20.
Chris Leak then engineered an eight-play eighty yards drive to pretty much wrap up the game, and in so doing cement his legacy as a guy who DID deliver a championship. A 20-yard pass to Bubba Caldwell and consecutive completions to Cornelius Ingram keyed the drive which ended on a little trickery of their own with a pass from Caldwell to Tate Casey.
That drive will forever be remembered as one that put these Gators over the top, and back on top. Florida is once again atop the SEC and now awaits the vote on who will play Ohio State for the title.
I promise you one thing; the Buckeyes are hoping Michigan gets the nod. Ohio State led the Wolverines all the way and won despite being minus-3 in turnovers. A rematch would allow the Buckeyes to win more convincingly and cruise to a National Title. If the Gators get the nod, they know they are in for a fight that will go down to the final few minutes.
Brandon Siler, MVP
Don’t get the idea I don’t appreciate the contributions of the PH Factor, but Percy Harvin would not have gotten my MVP vote Saturday night. The most important thing in this match up was for the Gators to deny Arkansas their dominant running game. Impossible, many said after seeing the Hogs run all over LSU for almost 300 yards. Well, Brandon Siler was the biggest reason the Gator run defense was so good. After averaging five tackles a game for the season, Siler made a dozen stops against the vaunted Arkansas running game. Siler was a man, plain and simple and had one of the finest games I can ever remember a Gator middle linebacker having. Yes he had help from a lot of guys, notably Jarvis Moss who had a great game, but this was Siler’s night. And what a night it was!
I’ll check in later today once the verdict is in and we know if the Gators are going to clobber Notre Dame in New Orleans or play for a title in Arizona. Either way, one thing can’t be debated. Only three Gators football teams have ever been 12-and-1… and the ’06 Gators have made this year one of the three greatest in Gator history.