The Florida Gators narrowly escaped last night's game against South Carolina with a 17-16 victory, using blocked FGs to catapult them to the win. In the end the Gators special teams unit blocked 3 kicks (Jarvis Moss with 2), including Ryan Succop's 48 yard attempt with only 8 seconds to go on the clock.
The significance of this game was unquestioned. Former Florida Heisman winner and Ball Coach Steve Spurrier was making his coaching return to Gainesville, a place in which he won numerous games at QB and titles as a head coach. Everyone knew that Spurrier would bring a fired up squad and an intense gameplan to Gainesville for this game, and the Ole' Ball Coach sure did not disappoint.
The Gators ended their SEC regular season with a 7-1 record, and it looks more and more like this team could finish the season with only 1 loss as they take on Western Carolina and a struggling FSU team in their last 2 games. While these two last games look to be easier wins than some of their other games this season, the Gators have some issues that will need to be worked out before they take on (what looks to be) Arkansas in the SEC title game on December 2nd.
In my personal opinion the Gators were very lucky to get out of the Swamp with a victory yesterday, but it cements a common theme among college football and sports in general: good teams just find ways to win games. Whether it is by stopping teams on goal line stands, blocking kicks or not committing penalties good teams will come out on top in any way possible. This season has been just like that for the Gators. They have done nothing too spectacular - they've committed a ton of penalties and have not put games away like they should - but they just keep winning these games.
One thing I do think that was evident yesterday was that Steve Spurrier is as good of a college coach as they come, and that Gator fans are not overrating his presence when they look back on his years as the head coach at Florida. The gap in talent at the Swamp yesterday was very incospicuous, yet it was evident from the first drive of the game that it would take a monumental effort from the Gators, as well as some breaks, to win the game. In the end I believe that Urban Meyer and the coaching staff were bailed out by the athletes on the offense, particularly Percy Harvin, on the way to the narrow victory. The problem is that when the teams are evenly matched athlete-wise on the field, these kind of things will not always work.
The dream is still alive for the Gators, as Louisville, Cal, Texas and Auburn all lost this weekend. If the Gators can win out there could be a chance they're playing for the National Title come January, something that no one thought was possible considering the Gators schedule coming into the season. Now they've overcome most of the obstacles and are in a very good position to win the SEC and maybe a national title. It's been a great season.
This was just a quick recap...expect more on this game and the return of Steve Spurrier sometime later today or tomorrow afternoon.