Despite three lackluster performances in a row, the Florida Gators are alive and well.
And they even did it against the referees as well. In a game that was very similar to the battles between these two in the glory days of the rivalry in the 1990's.
The Gators defeated the "vaunted" Seminoles and their No. 1 ranked defense rather handily, on the scoreboard anyway, by a score of 37 to 26. That's even taking into account the fact that the Seminoles scored a worthless touchdown as time expired when half the Gators defense was walking off the field in celebration of their victory.
In the first half, Caleb Sturgis got things going for the Gators with back-to-back field goals and Mike Gillislee scored on a 9 yard touchdown run to put the Gators up 13 to 0 before the Seminoles even really knew where they were. The Seminoles did add a field goal of their own as time expired in the first half to make the score 13 to 3 at the break.
The story of the first half however, aside from the Gators offense coming to life, was the Florida State turnovers. Two terrible interceptions thrown by E.J. Manuel ended Seminole drives before they really could get going.
The third quarter was an entirely different story. The Seminoles scored 17 points in the 3rd quarter which gave them a 20 to 13 lead heading into the 4th quarter. More importantly though, the Seminoles had all the momentum and Doak Campbell Stadium was starting to sound like the Doak of the 1990's.
But as always, the Gators prevailed in the 4th quarter. Another field goal by Sturgis inched the Gators closer, and then the offense came to life with back-to-back-to-back touchdowns by Gillislee, Quinton Dunbar and Matt Jones that put the game out of reach.
After the Jones touchdown, the Gators' celebrations began and the Seminole fans began exiting the stadium.
Jeff Driskel, who at times seemed to be confused on what decision to make, ended his day completing 15 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown. The star player of the offense however, was the aforementioned Gillislee who against the top defense in the country, racked up 124 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.
Once again there wasn't a receiver who stood out for the Gators, but as a group they performed admirably. While Jordan Reed led the team in receiving again, it was Quinton Dunbar who had the lone touchdown for the receiving corps.
With the win, the Gators aren't quite out of the BCS National Championship picture, but they need some help. Whether or not they do receive that help, this has been one heck of a season for the Gators who improved to 11-1 (7-1 SEC) on the year and appear to be ahead of the reloading schedule that was to reach this point in 2013.
As James Bates once said so eloquently: "Gators going to the Sugar Bowl!"
(But we're hoping for more, right?)