(Saturday, November 29th)
Final Score: (2) Florida 45, (23) Florida State 15
Tallahassee, FL (Sports Network) - Tim Tebow threw for 185 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for another score, as second-ranked Florida continued its dominant play with a 45-15 victory over No. 23 Florida State.
Tebow, who was 12-of-21 passing, finished with 80 yards on the ground on 16 attempts, while Jeffery Demps ran for 89 yards and a score for the Gators (11-1), who have won eight straight games, and won all of them by at least 28 points.
"The thing I have seen about them all year, ever since they lost to Ole Miss and probably before that," Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden said of Florida. "They score so many points so fast that everybody gets out of their game plan...They get three touchdowns ahead of you, man, and you're trying to catch up."
Florida will take that winning streak into the SEC title game next Saturday against top-ranked Alabama, a contest that has national title implications. But the Gators may have to do so without star wide receiver Percy Harvin, who suffered a sprained right ankle in the second quarter of Saturday's contest.
Graham Gano had three field goals for the Seminoles (8-4), who had trouble moving the football against the Florida defense. The Seminoles had fewer total yards (242) than the Gators had rushing (317).
Christian Ponder completed just 5-of-14 passes for 60 yards and was intercepted twice, while Drew Weatherford went 4-for-15 passing for 61 yards. Jermaine Thomas, who ran for 37 yards, had Florida State's only touchdown.
Aside from the loss, the Seminoles' hopes of reaching the ACC championship game disappeared, as they would have needed Maryland to beat Boston College on Saturday. But the No. 20 Eagles downed the Terps, 28-21, to secure the spot in the conference title game.
Florida, which defeated its in-state rival for a fifth straight time, scored on its first drive in slippery, wet conditions. It was a methodical, nine- play, 65-yard march that ended with Harvin taking a direct snap and rushing nine yards into the right corner of the end zone, while Tebow provided the final block.
"I know a big part of our game is speed, and I sat out there and just stared at that field as it started getting about two to three inches deep of water," Florida head coach Urban Meyer said. "(I was) very concerned, but I've been saying for about six or seven weeks now, the professionalism and the way our guys handle themselves has been real good."
Florida State got a 63-yard return from Michael Ray Garvin on the ensuing kickoff, but couldn't get a first down and settled for a 37-yarder from Gano.
The Gators were then forced to punt, but got the ball back after an interception that gave them the ball at their own 16. Despite the deep field position, Tebow ran for 24 yards on 3rd-and-9, and Demps later dashed for 44 yards to the Florida State eight-yard line. On 2nd-and-goal, Tebow threw across his body to a wide-open Aaron Hernandez in the right flat for a seven- yard TD, on a play designed to move to the left.
Florida took the 14-3 lead into the second quarter, and the Seminoles got three points back on a 36-yard kick from Gano five minutes in. But the Gators responded with another long drive -- 10 plays and 86 yards -- that Tebow capped with a four-yard push into the end zone for a 21-6 Florida lead.
Harvin was injured on the march, on a five-yard run in which he was tackled from behind and hit from the front, then twisted on the way down. He left with the help of trainers, keeping most of his weight off the right foot, and he was tended to on the sideline but did not return.
Gano connected on a 32-yard kick with 2:04 left in the half, but Tebow completed five consecutive passes to drive Florida to another score. He again found Hernandez for the score, this time a 24-yard strike with 57 ticks remaining to give Florida a 28-9 lead at the break.
"Tebow is a dual-threat," Florida State safety Jamie Robinson said. "He probably doesn't get as much credit for his arm as he should, because he does so many good things on his feet and he's a big kid, but he put some passes on the money this year."
Ponder was intercepted on the first play of the third quarter, which gave Florida the ball at the FSU 20. The Gators faced a 3rd-and-13 when Tebow connected with Louis Murphy for 23 yards and another TD.
After a Seminoles punt, the Gators drove to the FSU 12, where they stalled, and Jonathan Phillips booted through a 29-yard field goal for a 38-9 advantage just less than four minutes into the stanza.
Florida State came back with a sustained drive for its first touchdown of the game. With Weatherford under center, the Seminoles went 58 yards in eight plays. Thomas carried the load toward the end of the march, breaking off consecutive runs of 12 and six yards to get to the Florida 10. On 1st-and- goal, he scored from four yards out. The extra point was blocked, however, keeping the score at 38-15.
On the next drive, the Gators got all the way down to the Florida State three- yard-line before Tebow was sacked for a loss on fourth down. However, the Seminoles couldn't take advantage, as Weatherford's fourth-down pass on the other end of the field fell incomplete.
A series of punts ensued, but an interception of Seminoles redshirt sophomore quarterback D'Vontrey Richardson gave Florida the ball at the FSU 38. Emmanuel Moody highlighted the series with a 30-yard run, and Demps closed it out with a two-yard rush into the end zone to increase the Gators' lead to 30 points. The score came with 11:48 remaining, and Florida held on from there.
Harvin finished with six rushes for 13 yards...Florida owns a 32-19-2 series lead over FSU...Gators running back Chris Rainey finished with 97 yards on eight attempts...Antone Smith ran for 57 yards to lead Florida State...Harvin has a TD in 14 consecutive games, the longest streak in the nation.
11/29 22:24:14 ET