Florida Gators Have Last Laugh, First Laugh, and All the Laughs in the Middle


Many people expected some sort of retaliation from




celebration in last year’s game. But in the 2008 edition of the World’s Largest Outdoor


Drink Responsibly Party, the scoreboard ended up being more than enough revenge for the Gators. Florida dominated every aspect of the game, winning 49-10 and putting themselves in the driver’s seat to win the SEC East.

For Gator fans, this game was basically perfect. In recent years, the Florida/Georgia rivalry has been renewed thanks to a split in the previous four games. Gator fans – myself included – were not happy when the Bulldogs became relevant again. People my age grew up in an era where Georgia only actually defeated Florida once every six or seven years. Losing two out of four to the Bulldogs was unacceptable because we viewed them as an inferior opponent. Seeing them begin the 2008 season atop the polls made us sick to our stomachs. Hearing all the hype surround Matthew Stafford – the most overrated quarterback in recent history – made us want to kick puppies (Editor’s note: In no way does The Bull Gator actually want to kick puppies. In reality, The Bull Gator owns dogs and loves all puppies to the point that his fiancée has threatened leaving him if he brings more puppies into the house. Puppies = love. The Bull Gator merely made this statement to make a point.). But now, the world has been righted. The sun has come up again. Leprechauns are handing out pots of gold. Food has taste again. The Cowardly Lion found his courage. And order has been restored. Go Gators!

At this point, what else can we say about Tim Tebow? He is Superman. He can beat up Chuck Norris. His waking makes the sun rise. He controls the tides. And oh yeah, he’s a pretty darn good football player. To an outside observer, Tebow’s stats make it seem like he’s not having nearly the year he had in 2007. Well outside observers are idiots. If you aren’t on the inside, well then I’m sad for you that you don’t have full dedication to all things college football. Here are the two numbers you have to know about Tebow when comparing this year to last: 5 and 7. Last year, he won a Heisman and after eight games the Gators were 5-3. This year, his numbers aren’t off the charts, but Florida is 7-1. I don’t know about you, and frankly I don’t want to, but I’ll take more wins over a Heisman any day. And I have a strong feeling Tebow feels the same way.

There’s another Gator that at first look may not seem to be performing as he did last year. He isn’t getting as many touches and isn’t on pace to gain as many yards. But Percy Harvin is doing something better. He’s finding the end zone a lot more. In the first 24 games of his career, Harvin scored 15 total touchdowns on 217 offensive touches, good for a score every 14.5 touches. In seven games this season, he has 11 touchdowns on only 64 touches, which comes out to be a score every 5.8 times he touches the ball. I’ll take it! I’m sure some fans may want Harvin to get the ball more, but by spreading the ball around, the Gators are much more dangerous.

The defense did give up 398 yards, but that was expected. Georgia has talented weapons on offense and was expected to move the ball. What was impressive though is that despite the yardage, the Gators held the Bulldogs to 10 points. Take away an 80-yard touchdown drive near the end of the game during which even I suited up for a play (okay, that’s not even remotely true, but there were a number of backups’ backups’ backups in at that time), and Florida held the high-powered Georgia offense to three points. Add a plus four turnover advantage, and the Gators came through on defense when it mattered. Stafford – supposedly a quarterback who manages the game well – was intercepted three times and let’s be honest, a couple of those throws were garbage. The announcers made a number of comments about Joe Haden putting his arm out to disrupt the route before he picked off Stafford, but the Georgia QB made a poor throw anyway. Not to say Haden definitely would’ve picked it off, but that ball was thrown well short of the receiver. The play wasn’t the result of an amazing defensive play, but instead a smart read by Haden on a bad throw by Stafford. Can you tell I’m not impressed with Stafford?

Mini rant regarding my feelings toward Stafford: Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Stafford can make some great throws. He appears to have that “NFL-arm” people constantly comment about. But I still don’t get the hype. Why? He has done very little that could truly be defined as outstanding. He’ll go through streaks where he looks like he makes all the right reads, doesn’t make any mistakes, and just does what the team needs him to do. Then he goes through streaks that he looks downright awful. Everyone and their mother seem to think he’ll be the top quarterback taken in the draft, but if I’m a NFL exec, I’m very worried about his career 38-31 touchdown-to-interception ratio. That’s just not that good. Truly talented quarterbacks, surrounded with the weapons Stafford has, don’t have ratios close to that. Theirs are more along the lines of 51-9. And yes, that just happens to be Tebow’s career ratio. I’m not saying Stafford doesn’t have a pro-arm. I’m just saying if a guy throws that many interceptions in college, how’s he not going to do the same in the NFL where the secondaries he faces will be infinitely better?

After watching this game – and the three before it – I still have to wonder how Florida ever lost to Ole Miss. Something was just off in that game, but then again maybe the loss was a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, losses are never really a good thing, but think of it this way. After starting the season 3-0, many fans were worried. We were worried that despite some big wins, the offense looked shaky, the defense may have been lucky, and something was just not right. Well since losing to the Rebels, the Gators have looked like one of the best teams in the nation. Yes, there are still areas for improvement. There always are. But this team is playing on an entirely new level. The offense is scoring, and scoring, and scoring. And the defense tightens up when it matters. This is a special team and if the pieces fall into place, it could still end up being a very special season.