Florida opened its most anticipated season in school history with a near-perfect performance.
The top-ranked and defending national champion Gators didn't even care that it came against an overmatched team from the Football Championship Subdivision.
Tim Tebow accounted for two touchdowns, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps had scoring runs, and Brandon James ended the school's longest special-teams drought in a 62-3 victory over Charleston Southern on Saturday night.
Florida, an overwhelming favorite to repeat as national champs, accomplished everything it wanted to in the opener. The Gators unveiled some new wrinkles, won the game in convincing fashion and avoided any major injuries.
A better test comes in two weeks, when Tennessee visits Gainesville. The Volunteers beat Western Kentucky 63-7 in coach Lane Kiffin's debut Saturday.
Nonetheless, Florida fans found reason to pack The Swamp against Charleston Southern. Expectations have soared since Tebow and linebacker Brandon Spikes announced in January they would return for their senior seasons. With them back, the Gators returned 18 of 22 starters and were an obvious choice to win it all again.
They showed why Saturday night, although it came against a middle-of-the-pack team from the Big South accustom to playing in front of a couple thousand people.
Tebow completed 10 of 15 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown, a 28-yard strike to Aaron Hernandez. Tebow also ran for a score, the 44th of his career. It tied him with former LSU star Dalton Hilliard for fourth place on the Southeastern Conference list.
Tebow's most memorable moment may have came before the game. Tebow spent warmups pushing around a child in a wheelchair. He included the kid in drills, handed him a football and even took him to the locker room. He did it long before the 90,621 fans reached their seats, too.
When the Florida faithful did arrive _ flashbulbs filled the air like it was a title game _ they found reason to celebrate. Demps scored twice, finding the end zone from 8 and 23 yards out. Rainey got loose for a 76-yard TD run. They even got a goal-line stand late in the game.
James ended up with the top highlight, though. The senior returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, breaking a 123-game drought for the Gators. Bo Carroll was the last Florida player to return a kickoff for a touchdown. He did it Oct. 9, 1999, against LSU.
Three times before in his career, James thought he had scored on kickoffs. But each of them was called back because of penalties. He vowed to get one this year _ and finally did.
The Buccaneers, who received $450,000 for playing in Gainesville, left with some highlights of their own.
A.J. Toscano completed 18 of 31 passes for 157 yards, with an interception. He also ran six times for 20 yards and had a 26-yard reception that set up a field goal. John Paglia's 38-yarder made it 35-3 late in first half.
James took the ensuing kickoff, started up the middle, cut right and outran several pursuers to the end zone.
Florida's backups took over from there.
It wasn't all good for the Gators, though.
Starting left tackle Carl Johnson sprained his right ankle in the second quarter and didn't return. Jonathan Phillips missed an extra points. And Tebow had two would-be touchdown passes dropped.
Deonte Thompson sped by a defender and was wide open down the middle. Tebow threw a perfect pass, but Thompson let it slip through his fingers. Florida ended up punting.
Two series later, Tebow zipped a pass to James in the end zone, but the ball bounced off his hands. Tebow scored two plays later, making it 21-0 early in the second quarter.
Florida's defense also looked shaky at times. The Gators had given up 206 yards at halftime, looking nothing like the unit that slowed down Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and Oklahoma in the Bowl Championship Series title game in Miami.
The Bucs used a lot of quick-hitting slant passes to keep Florida from pressuring Toscano. It didn't help that the Gators played without two defensive starters. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins and defensive end Jermaine Cunningham were seemingly suspended for the opener.
Jenkins was Tasered and arrested after trying to flee a fight outside a Gainesville nightclub in May. He signed a deferred prosecution agreement in June. If he stays out of trouble for six months, his record will be wiped clean.
It was unknown why Cunningham didn't play.