The Gators, who lobbied hard for this victory, were picked to play No. 1 Ohio State for college football's national championship, ending any chance for the Wolverines to get the rematch they so desired and thought they deserved.
But Florida got in by a whisker -- just a hundredth of a point in the Bowl Championship Series standings.
The Gators had a BCS average of .944, and the Wolverines were just behind at .934. The teams were tied in the computer ratings, but Florida had a 38-point lead in the Harris poll and a 26-point advantage in the coaches' poll.
All these factors were sure to set off renewed calls to scrap the BCS and go to a playoff. Count Florida coach Urban Meyer as supporter of that plan.
"We're beyond the fact of, 'Do we need a playoff,'" he said. "It's now, 'Can we get one.'"
|Jim Tressel, Troy Smith now have an opponent for the title. (US PRESSWIRE)|
The Gators leapfrogged idle Michigan by winning the Southeastern Conference Championship Game 38-28 over Arkansas.
"It's well deserved, and I'm proud of it," Meyer said of the Gators' selection.
The championship game is Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz.
Michigan's consolation prize is a Rose Bowl bid to play USC (10-2), a classic Big Ten vs. Pac-10 matchup of teams left to wonder what could have been.
"I don't think they (Florida) would have moved ahead of us if USC would have won the game," said Michigan coach Lloyd Carr.
In other bowls: