The Florida Gators rampage through the SEC reached its culmination with a 31-20 victory over #1 ranked Alabama in the conference championship game. This victory set the stage for the Gators' appearance in the National Championship Game.
The Gators struck first, taking a 7-0 lead on a three yard Tim Tebow TD pass to Carl Moore. The Crimson Tide quickly answered, tying the score on an eighteen yard run by Glen Coffee and taking their first lead of the game at 10-7 several minutes later on a 30 yard FG by Leigh Tiffin. Florida came right back in the second quarter, tying the game on a Jonathan Phillips 19 yard FG and taking a 17-10 lead into the halftime break on another Tebow TD pass, this one to David Nelson from five yards out. Alabama regained control in the third quarter, tying the score on a 2 yard Mark Ingram touchdown run and then regaining the lead at 20-17 in the final seconds of the period on another Tiffin field goal. Florida put them away for good in the fourth, however, on a 1 yard Jeffrey Demps TD run followed by Tebows third touchdown strike of the day.
Junior quarterback Tim Tebow was the big star for the Gators. The junior QB had 216 yards passing with 3 TDs and no interceptions plus fifty seven yards on the ground. Florida head coach Urban Meyer praised Tebow effusively in his post game comments:
"I've had some great players, and I've got some great players on this team. But I've never had one like this. Tim's got something special inside him. I'm not talking about throwing. I'm not talking about running. I'm talking about making everyone around him better. That fourth quarter was vintage Tim Tebow.
Alabama coach Nick Saban agreed:
"He's a great competitor. He takes his teammates on his shoulders a lot. They have a lot of confidence he's going to make plays, and they play that way. They scored two touchdowns where we had them covered about as well as we could cover them."
According to cornerback Joe Haden the football world underestimated the Gators' toughness:
"Our team is a tough team. The only reason they look past our toughness is our speed. They said we were a speed team and they were a tough team. We're just as tough. We can still be pretty and fast and tough at the same time."
Even in defeat, it was impossible to overlook the remarkable resurgance of Alabama football. The team was only two years removed from a 6-7 record in their last year under Mike Shula. In only two years at the helm, Nick Saban has amassed a 19-7 record at Alabama with no signs of slowing down.
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Ross Everett is a staff handicapper for Sports-1 and an authority on college football and sports betting . He's a published expert sports handicapping theory, as well as stock market investing. He contributes to a number of websites providing insight on how to bet on NFL football, college football and boxing.
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