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Florida 10, Tennessee 9: Gators reach point of no return in improbable win


Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Florida shouldn't have beaten Tennessee on Saturday, shouldn't have scored 10 fourth-quarter points to upset — upset — the Vols in Neyland Stadium, especially after the first three quarters.

Jeff Driskel threw three picks during those quarters, and Florida's offense played as badly as he did for the most part, with wide receivers dropping passes and no one but Matt Jones excelling. Florida's defense appeared to be bending and not breaking, stuffing Tennessee's running game but beginning to leak against the pass.

And then Jalen Tabor forced a fumble.

And then Treon Harris came in.

Suddenly, it was 9-7. Then it was 10-9.

Then Florida gave up two first downs on desperation heaves by Justin Worley.

Then Worley threw a pick.

This was an ugly, brutal win, one that challenged the very notions of joy and love and civility. Florida was a hair's breadth away from being buried for about 45 minutes, then scratched its way ... well, not to the surface, but to the stale air in the coffin.

This was a win, and not a loss, and a sign of life and not death. If you can't enjoy that while also finding fault with the great many things to find fault with — in this game, in Will Muschamp's coaching, in Florida's program — I am sorry for you.

Today, and from here on in, Harris should be Florida's quarterback. This is a change that was sorely needed, and only circumstance forced it, but it has happened, and there should be no going back. Harris is Icarus: Florida has to go with him, mercurial though he may yet prove to be.

The promise of the parable of Icarus is tinged with peril: Icarus could fly, and then he would die. Harris — and Florida — may do one or both for the rest of the season.

But a chance at living's better than certain death.