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Florida 36, UAB 7: Gators cruise against error-prone Blazers

Turnovers helped fuel Florida’s biggest win of the season.

NCAA Football: Alabama-Birmingham at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators entered Saturday’s game against the UAB Blazers with a banged-up roster and a five-game losing streak.

They left with a banged-up roster.

Florida scored 17 points off four UAB turnovers and ran for 257 yards in thrashing UAB, 36-7, and recording its first win since September.

The Gators, playing with more than 30 players out due to injury or suspension, leaned on their running game and kicker Eddy Piñeiro to generate a lead. And those reliable segments of the team game through: Lamical Perine, Mark Thompson, and Adarius Lemons — who had multiple runs of more than 20 yards called back by holding on one late fourth-quarter drive — each topped 75 rushing yards, with Perine punching in a touchdown, and Piñeiro ended five Gators drives with three-pointers, setting a new career high for field goals and booting a pair of 50-yarders in the process.

Elsewhere, results were more mixed. Feleipe Franks completed just half of his passes — he went 15-for-30, thanks largely to a number of drops by Florida wideouts — but threw for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Florida’s defense forced four turnovers, including its first and second fumble recoveries of the year, and conceded just three rushing yards, but still yielded UAB’s longest play of the season, a 74-yard touchdown strike to open the fourth quarter.

And while Florida controlled the game from kickoff to the end — the Gators held the ball for over 42 minutes of game clock, never trailed, and committed no turnovers — it was also clear as day that even this emaciated version of Florida still has substantially more talent than UAB, and probably should’ve been predicted to win by this wide a margin. Even losing Kadarius Toney early on to what appeared to be a knee injury and seeing several other players go down over the course of the game couldn’t erase the Gators’ substantial talent advantage.

But regardless of that factor mitigating the significance of this win, Florida has eliminated the prospect of finishing with fewer than four wins for the first time since 1979, and has a chance to improve to 5-6 — and earn an outside chance of playing in a bowl game — by taking down Florida State next Saturday.

Moreover, the Gators will now go into that game off a win.

And while it’s impossible to determine how much that good feeling is worth, it’s worth it to note that a good feeling alone is worth something at the end of this season.