ATLANTA — When the group of reporters around David Nelson dispersed, and the Florida players had mostly cleared out of the locker room, the senior wide receiver said what everyone was thinking.

“What now?” Nelson said, half to himself and half to a team assistant before making his way to the Georgia Dome’s showers.

Nelson and the rest of the No. 5 Gators (12-1) got the answer to that question Sunday night when it was announced that they are set to take on No. 3 Cincinnati (12-0) in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.

“We have the winningest class in the history of the Southeastern Conference, and our legacy is going to be determined by how we finish this season,” UF coach Urban Meyer said.

Alabama wiped the floor with the defending Southeastern Conference and BCS national champions Saturday, racking up 490 total yards against the best defense in the nation — UF came into the game allowing 9.8 points per game.

As UA quarterback Greg McElroy took a knee at the end of a drive that bled the final 7:28 off the clock in the fourth quarter, the video boards inside the Georgia Dome showed Tim Tebow crying as he watched from the sideline.

Crimson Tide fans in attendance erupted at the sight.

Like much of the college football world outside of Gainesville, they were happy to finally see a little bit of the shine finally fade from Tebow’s armor.

The 32-13 win against the Gators in this year’s SEC Championship Game was a shocking result, not necessarily because the Crimson Tide won, but because of how they won.

Florida’s offense struggled on multiple occasions throughout the regular season, but the defense never let the team down before Saturday.

Alabama controlled the ball for 39:37 of the game’s 60 minutes and converted 11 of its 15 third downs, including 8 of 9 in the second half.

“They ran the same stuff we saw on film, they just ran it a little bit harder,” UF cornerback Joe Haden said.

The offense was unable to step up and save the day as the defense faltered, partially because a frustrated Tebow and the rest of the unit couldn’t seem to stay on the field.

The Gators averaged 236 rushing yards and 451 total yards per game coming into the rematch with Alabama. But they could only manage 88 rushing yards and 335 total yards of offense against the nation’s No. 2 defense.

“Obviously our rushing, we didn’t get the backs — Tim ran the ball for some yards — but we didn’t get our backs going,” Meyer said. “But it seemed like we were behind, and we were trying to play catch-up the entire night, and we didn’t do that.”

UF was content to abandon the run early despite never trailing by more than nine points in the first half. Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio’s unit ran the ball nine times and passed it 17 times before the break, with only three of those carries going to players other than Tebow.

The balance, or lack thereof, only got worse in the second half, as the Gators finished with 14 rushes and 35 passes, with four carries going to players other than Tebow.

Addazio has said many times this season that Florida is a rushing team, only to abandon that identity in the biggest game of the season.

“If you try to be something you’re not, sometimes that fails,” Addazio said after UF played Vanderbilt. 

The Gators will have to figure out some way to get back to the running game that made them so successful if they hope not to suffer a similar fate against the Bearcats.

“I don’t think you can win the game without getting the running backs involved, so that’s a high priority for us,” Meyer said in the Sugar Bowl teleconference Sunday night.

Motivation will be another issue for a Florida team that had hopes of winning its third national championship in four seasons.

Last year, the Crimson Tide suffered their first loss of the season to the Gators in the SEC Championship Game and were unable to regroup before dropping a second game to Utah in the Sugar Bowl.

UF will lean on its decorated senior class to avoid a similar fate.

“This is not how we wanted to finish our season in the SEC, and, you know, there were a lot of goals and a lot of goals we won’t be able to accomplish,” Tebow said. “We’ve still got to regroup and go have a good bowl game, and that’s what our focus will be.”

(10) comments


Sad ending. Definitely the offense abandoned the running game and the defense suddenly was predictable, couldn't tackle, and the pass coverage gave up big plays. Out played and outcoached.


As a student in the College of Journalism and an avid Gator football fan. I would like to make a few statements:

First, this is not a column. As journalism students aren't we taught to leave our opinion, out of the article? So please, the comments about the defense "letting us down," "the shine finally fading" and Tebow crying, give me a break. Report the story without the added dramatics. This isn't a magazine. It's a NEWSpaper.

Second, I've watched numerous opinionated articles about Gator football. Until anyone who writes those articles can go out and perform better than that team can, I don't want to hear your opinion in the NEWS article. I just need a play by play of the game.

Finally, since obviously an opinion is in the article, show some appreciation for a team who gave us something to be proud of this year. It was still a great season and no one is perfect.



I have the answer to fixing the Gators offense and Urban should have done it after the Tennesse game. Addazio is a offensive lineman coach and it showed all season long. Some people say the Gators did not have the same explosive offense potential as last year but that is just foolishness. What they didn't have was an offensive coordinator that knew how to call plays like they did with Dan Mullen. In the end, it is Meyer that is to blame for the Gators lackluster offense this year since he is the head coach and should have made the change early on. Everybody realized Adazzio was the problem and I am sure someone must have said it to Meyer at some point but, even if they didn't, it doesn't take a genius to figure out where the flaw was and it was Meyer's responsibility. The truth is we see things like this happen all of the time. The question that comes to the forefront for me is Meyer really responsible for the success of the Gators offense/team or was it Dan Mullen that made Meyer look good all these years? If anyone questions my assessment, might I remind you of how FSU fell apart after Mark Richt left. If I were Meyer, I would be concerned about this issue because if he does not make this change and get a good play caller to replace Addazio with, the Gators will be in for another problematic season of mediocre offensive play. Shoot, if you ask me, Tebow could have done better play calling than Addazio, I know I could have...........


Bbugett... as journalism students you are also taught to avoid the use of contractions, awkward sentence structure and misplaced commas. As an engineering student, I may be incorrect, but it looks to me like you violated all three of these journalistic faux pas. Please correct me if I am wrong.

The following are facts from the SEC Championship game: The defensive did let the team down. After being ranked number one in the nation for the entire regular season, they had one of their worst performances of the year when it counted most. That is the very definition of a "let down." Also, I would agree with the article that the shine from Tim Tebow's armor has faded slightly. This is more of a metaphor than an opinion. He did not perform up to his super man caliber. What part of the statement "Tim Tebow crying," anything but a fact. Tebow did cry and rightly so. It is sad to lose it all when one is so close.

Finally, because you are obviously ignorant to your own accusations... Until you can write these Alligator Sports articles better than the staff that already does so, I don't want to hear your opinion.

Great season Gators. It is a bummer that it ended like this, but you can still finish strong in the Sugar Bowl. Send off the senior class the way it deserves.

Also, thank you for all of the ammo bburgett. This was worth the distraction.


All in good fun of course.


bburgett: crazy biotch. I'll bet Mr. Maistri gets a job for really good writing before your sorry, strung-out booty. It's a good piece. Worry about your own writing.


It's true... "sugar never tasted so sour," but being in New Orleans for New Years would be sweet. You can win tickets this weekend at the Allstate Tailgate Tour at Butler Plaza West (in front of the Target on SW Archer Rd.) on Friday (3-7PM) and Saturday (11-3PM). Giving away 15 pairs of tickets!!


Giving away 15 pairs of tickets. huh. I guess Florida fans are just fair weather fans. Not a surprise.


genius you're an idiot. they did the same promotion last year for the national championship game...

UF fans are by far the best fans in college football. No other team experienced the dominance we were fortunate to feel. I can promise you it developed a strong, devoted fan base that will stand the test of time.


I just hope tebow and coach Meyer can get the team to understand what kind of team that they will face in the Cincy Bearcats.
They are talented and have a lot to play for.
The 'Cats will be trying to remain undefeated and represent the Big east conf who they feel is soooo underated.
Remember the West Virginia win, a blow-out of the Sooners in a bowl game a couple years back, just days after coach RichRod left them for the Michigan job?...Well, you can expect that same mentality form Cincy in the Sugar Bowl.
I hope the Gators can ready themselves and that Tebow and these seniors can part the way by representing UF the same way that they have during four stellar seasons in the Swamp.
But, first, this team needs to rebound form the SEC title game loss and understand that they still can suit up one more time!

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