|Jeff Driskel appears to be the Gators' top quarterback. (Getty Images)|
FLORIDA WON. But somehow we doubt they're feeling the least bit good about themselves, not after needing all 60 minutes -- and a healthy slice of luck -- to see off the surprisingly dogged Falcons. After three quarters marked by strong running from Mike Gillislee and not much else, the Gators finally got a big play in their passing game when Jeff Driskel hit Frankie Hammond for a 50-yard touchdown that pushed their lead to 24-14. Bowling Green will rue the fact they weren't already ahead by that stage, with Stephen Stein's two missed field goals (from only 31 and 29 yards) looming large and another golden second-half opportunity lost on a tipped interception.
WHY FLORIDA WON. In the end, it was because Bowling Green simply didn't have enough offensive punch to reach the end zone; having possessions end without points on the Florida 12, 10, 23 and 24 is no way to pull off the biggest upset of the day, especially not when your veteran quarterback, Matt Schilz, is only averaging 4.2 yards per pass. The Gator defense didn't look anything near what it will need to be in the SEC -- watching the Falcons gash the middle of the Gators' star-studded front during touchdown drives of 89 and 55 yards was stunning -- but it could have been worse.
With the exception of the Hammond touchdown pass, it's hard to say the same for a Gator passing game that looked all right in the box score -- 13-of-21 between Driskel and Jacoby Brissett for 6.9 yards an attempt -- but had little-to-no impact. The unquestioned star of the Gators' performance was running back Mike Gillislee, finally out of the shadow of the Jeff Demps-Chris Rainey tag team, who ran for 148 powerful yards and gave the Florida offense its only reliable weapon. If Driskel and Brissett can improve, Gillislee gives the Gators a strong foundation to build their offense around--but on the evidence of Saturday, that's a big if.
WHEN FLORIDA WON. Not until just under five minutes remained, when a Falcon draw play at the Florida 24 fell a yard short on 4th-and-3, with the Gators up 27-14.
WHAT FLORIDA WON. The usual goal for a game like this is to gain some confidence and clarity going into actual competition -- in this case, a dangerous-and-then-some Week 2 trip to Texas A&M for the Aggies' SEC debut -- but we're not sure how much, if any, the Gators actually earned. They can at least say they have an idea of who their quarterback is--after promising earlier in the week that his quarterbacks were on even footing and on track to take equal snaps (at least in the first half), Driskel saw far more action than Brissett and attempted 16 passes to Brissett's 5. So there's that.
WHAT BOWLING GREEN LOST. Not a whole lot in the big picture -- no one, the Falcons likely included, were expecting to leave the Swamp with a win -- and there's also that nice paycheck to take back to Ohio. But head coach Dave Clawson will no doubt see Stein's missed kicks and Schilz's errant red zone throws in his sleep this week; the Gators were there for the taking, or at least the taking-them-down-to-the-wire, and the Falcons had no one to blame for not doing so than themselves.