Nov 24, 2012; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp meets with Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher before the game at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-US PRESSWIRE

How Do You Like Me Now? Gators Reclaim Ron Zook Field


Cue Toby Keith:

How do you like me now,

Now that I’m on my way?

Do you still think I’m crazy

Standing here today?

Might as well be Will Muschamp singing to whiny Gator fans who continue to doubt him and his assistant coaches.

Might as well be the Gator team singing to their BCS detractors who didn’t think the Gators were “sexy” enough.

Might as well be the whole Gator Nation who has had to listen to every one of their rival’s fans mock the Gators “eek it out” philosophy.

How do you like me now?

11-1 having beaten four of the five BCS top ten teams they played. Nobody else in the country has come close to playing the schedule that Florida had. Not Alabama, not Georgia. Certainly not Oregon, and not even Notre Dame. They could not devise any playoff system that would make a harder schedule than what Florida played in the regular season. Think about that for a second and let it sink in. A playoff would be easier than the schedule Florida just finished. Why are they not in the BCS Championship game again?

How do you like me now?

Finishing out the regular season in the most fitting of fashions, on the road playing from behind and overcoming adversity to win in the fourth quarter. This team, from their first two SEC games on the road in tough environments to the last road test yesterday in Tallahassee, has had to overcome a lot of adversity to get to 11-1 repeatedly playing from behind due to slow offensive starts and lots of self-inflicted mental errors. For once, however, they started fast driving on their first possession and every one of the first half to take a 13-3 which should have been worse.

The self-inflicted adversity came in the third quarter this time with Driskel having a terrible three and out after the Gators intercepted Manuel on the opening series of the third quarter. A poor punt by Kyle Christy resulted in great field position just outside the red zone and the Seminoles took it in from there.  A fumble on the exchange from Driskel to Gillislee on the very next possession led to another quick Seminole score followed by an FSU field goal and the Seminoles rode an unaswered 17 point swing to take a 20-10 lead with a little over four minutes to play in the third quarter.

The Gators would recompose themselves from that point forward turning to their inside running game to power it’s way back into the game. A fumble recovery and a huge punt return by Marcus Roberson would set the Gators up for a couple of more touchdowns and throw in a Sturgis field goal and the Gators retook the lead for good.  After the Gator defense turned the ball over on downs, Matt Jones came in and put the game away. Once again the Gators face a tough road test, once again the overcame adversity, once again they passed the audition.

How do you like me now?

A team that coach Muschamp called”soft” immediately after  losing this game last year turning the tide by dominating the number one defense in the nation with a power run game we hadn’t seen since the LSU game.  244 yards rushing against the nation’s number one ranked rushing defense. They came in averaging only 70  yards allowed per game. Florida broke that in the second quarter as the Gators had little trouble running the ball from the first series on.  Mike Gillislee finished with 140 yards rushing on 24 carries as he became the first Gator running back since Ciatrick Fason in  2004 to eclipse the 1,000 yard rushing mark. He came in needing only 67 yards to break it and did that before halftime and currently has 1077 on the season with the bowl game still to be played.

How do you like me now?

Coach Will Muschamp putting the Zook back into Ron Zook Field. Of all the things Ron Zook could have been accused of doing wrong during his short stint as head coach of the Gators, the one thing for certain he did right was beat the Noles. Not just beat them, but beat them in Tallahassee something that the great Steve Spurrier never did. In 2004 when they won it was the same day they were renaming the field as Bobby Bowden field and fans ever since have joked of it as being Ron Zook Field.  Thanks to Muschamp and these plucky Gators it will be just that for one more year.

How do you like me now?

A Gator defense that last year couldn’t get a turnover in the bakery department is an amazing +17 this season helping the Gators to a number five ranking in turnover margin. They have played opportunistically in the biggest games getting 5 yesterday, 4 against Missouri, 3 against Georgia, 5 against South Carolina, etc… The only game they were negative in turnover margin they lost.  Top to bottom this will go down as one of the Gator’s best defenses and one of the best defensive seasons in school history.

How do you like me now?

A team that started out off of the radar, picked by most fans and analysts at no better than 9-3 going 11-1 and coming within a turnover or two against Georgia from playing in the SEC Championship game with a shot at the BCS title game. NOBODY gave these Gators a chance at the SEC title, they were picked to finish third in the East in preseason balloting, much less the BCS championship. So after a nerve-racking season where the Gators played up (or down) to their opponent and continually shot themselves in the foot, they are set to play in a BCS game likely to be the Sugar Bowl and will get one more chance to play a top rated team and once again prove their detractor’s wrong.

 

 

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Tags: Florida Gators Florida Versus Florida State Gator Football Mike Gillislee Will Muschamp