Melina Vastola-US PRESSWIRE
The Gators weren't in control the whole way, but they put a hurting on their in-state rivals.
The Florida Gators overcame a hideous third quarter in order to take down FSU 37-26.
For three quarters, UF dominated the game. Over the course of the first, second, and fourth quarters, the Gators outscored the Seminoles by a count of 37-9. The first half was all Florida, with the visitors holding the ball for about three quarters of it. They could have had more than the 13-3 halftime lead they did if not for a bad Trey Burton pass to a wide open Clay Burton on a fourth down conversion attempt and a drive that began deep in FSU territory that only went backwards out of field goal range.
So while UF played very well in the first half, the 13-3 lead proved inadequate. FSU roared out of intermission, forcing a three-and-out on the Gators' first drive and returning the subsequent punt to the Gators' 25. They would jam it in for a touchdown four plays later, and they recovered a fumble deep in Florida territory on the first play of the next drive. They converted that into a touchdown, and they turned another Kyle Christy punt into a field goal. The momentum had swung entirely into FSU's favor, and they took a 20-13 lead into the fourth quarter.
From there, Florida found its footing again and took the game over. Despite the scores that Florida State was picking up, the Gators were able to extend their lead in time of possession in the third quarter. Mike Gillislee, a newly minted 1,000-yard rusher, and his backup Matt Jones wore down the defense even more, and a 24-point fourth quarter was the result. It was reminiscent of the way Florida wore down LSU's defense, only LSU's defense is better. FSU only managed a meaningless touchdown on the game's final play.
It was not a picture perfect win for the Gators, as the offense looked lost at times and they were flagged 12 times for 101 yards (not counting a couple more that were declined). Still, they picked off E.J. Manuel three times and recovered two more fumbles to capture five turnovers on the game. They also gained 394 yards, the most they've had since 403 on Vanderbilt in mid-October.
The team showed an ability to counterpunch that it did not have against Georgia. The team is all but guaranteed to finish at least fourth in the BCS and get a guaranteed BCS bowl bid, and it of course will be watching Los Angeles very closely to gauge its chances for something more.