Florida Beats Vanderbilt; Gators Clinch Spot in SEC Championship Game



took care of business on Saturday, beating


and clinching a spot in the SEC Championship Game. The Gators stormed out of the gate – which seems commonplace as of late – and put themselves in the title game for the second time in three years. With

Penn State

losing, Florida could be in a position to get itself into the national title game if they can win out and then beat #1


for the conference championship. As a Gator fan, you’re going to want the Crimson Tide to keep winning until that game. If Florida can beat the undefeated, top-ranked team right before the bowl selection process, there’s a good chance they will be the top 1-loss team.

Tim Tebow looked like he may actually have a good shot at repeating as the Heisman Trophy winner. For the second straight game, Tebow accounted for five total touchdowns and although his yardage numbers weren’t off the charts, he continues to put himself in a position to at the very least be a finalist for the award. You can say what you want about any of the Big 12 quarterbacks this year, but Tebow just continues to play better and better. When he is on and given the chance to play the game like he has the ability to do so, the Gators become one of, if not the, most unstoppable offenses in the nation. It’s hard to imagine any team stopping Tebow and Florida from putting up somewhere north of 38-42 points per game. It would take a defensive letdown of epic proportions for the Gators to drop one with the way they are playing at the moment.

The run game looked impressive yet again as the Gators totaled 231 yards with 6.1 yards per carry. It’s great seeing Emmanuel Moody healthy and in the game. He provides an added dimension to the rush game, being able to work between the tackles. Moody is the perfect complement to Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. It also looks like Florida wants to get in on the “wildcat” formation that is sweeping through the college and professional ranks. Percy Harvin took several direct snaps and should have ended the day with two touchdowns. He scored on that play that was ruled a fumble. You know it. I know it. And Jebus knows it. It’s hard to even remember all the way back to 2007 when running the ball was one of Florida’s biggest weaknesses.

Seven different players had catches and no one particularly stood out. However, it is worth bringing up that He Who Shall Not Be Mentioned led the team in receiving yards on only one catch. HWSNBM now has two catches on the year and yes, both went for scores. This isn’t to say he’ll be a star one day, but if he keeps not messing up on the field, we might actually utter his name.

What more can be said about the defense? Since the Ole Miss game, the entire defense has transformed. Brandon Spikes was always a great player, but now he has transcended to another level. I’d say we’re watching a definite first-round draft pick. The announcers made a few comments about Spikes excelling as a pass rushing defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL, but I’ll put out a huge “I bed to differ!” Spikes has perfect size for a prototypical middle linebacker. He has amazing field speed and works well from sideline to sideline. And his coverage skills are actually pretty darn good. Spikes could do pretty well as a pass rusher, but any team converting him to such would be losing his other skills. The Gators have put a number of good linebackers into the league over the years and Spikes looks like he could be one of the better ones. The team that drafts him would be smart to keep him at his current position.

The only aspect of the game that could be worrisome to Gator fans was the play of the backups, the backups’ backups, and the backups’ backups’ backups. While a few players did look good, the second (and third) team defense left a lot to be desired. But there are a few things to consider before bashing them too much. First, Vanderbilt was still playing with a number of its first teamers. And second, let’s just be glad the younger Gators are being given a chance to get on the field. They will get better with experience and getting that experience now and not further down the road when coaches have no other choice but to play them is definitely what we all want.

Most importantly, the Gators are in the SEC Championship Game and will probably be taking on the number one team in the nation for the conference title. But let’s hope the players don’t look too far ahead. South Carolina is up next and is playing fairly well lately. Anything can happen in the SEC and Florida knows this. I’m sure Urban Meyer has them focusing on the upcoming game only.