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On some level, you knew that Friday night's Sugar Bowl was going to be about Tim Tebow. Even if the ubiquitous Florida quarterback did nothing to deserve the honor, this was Thom Brennaman and Fox that were broadcasting the game, and Tebow would be central to the narrative. (Any doubt was erased when, for reasons still passing understanding, Fox devoted an online camera feed to following Tebow all night long.)
Luckily for the broadcasting crew, Tebow did the work for them. In his final college game, the man who has been the object of adoration in Gainesville and fatigue practically everywhere else accounted for 533 yards of total offense, scored four touchdowns and completed a mind-numbing 88.6 percent of his passes. The BCS-record yardage for a single player was almost three-fourths of the Gators' total of 660.
But what made this game so lopsided was that Tebow was not the only player seemingly determined to erase the SEC Championship Game from the national consciousness. The Florida defense shut down the high-octane Cincinnati offense, allowing just 246 yards and limiting Tony Pike to 3.5 yards per pass attempt. The first touchdown for the Bearcats came with four minutes left in the third quarter and made the score 37-10; no one watching the game at that point thought a Cincinnati victory was likely or even possible.
The focus, though, was Tebow. And it was easy to understand the protests of the single-minded Brennaman as Brian Billick calmly tried to explain why the risk-averse NFL would shy away from Tebow, as on the field below the quarterback divided his 31 completions among six receivers, Riley Cooper had the best night of his life and Aaron Hernandez was inexpicably uncontested for almost all of his nine receptions. For a night, at least, this was the Florida we all expected to see all year long, annihilating a Top-5 (if emotionally drained) opponent.
And just like that, it's over. Whether or not Urban Meyer comes back from his football-free safari, and regardless of what happens to the several NFL-caliber juniors might try the draft, the Gators without Tim Tebow will be a very different team. We already knew that, but Friday night provided a less than subtle reminder.