Posted by Adam Jacobi
FLORIDA WON. The Florida Gators used two special teams touchdowns to break the Gator Bowl open, and Ohio State's late rally wasn't enough to bring the Buckeyes back in a 24-17 Florida victory. Andre Debose, seen at right, was named Gator Bowl MVP after he took a kickoff 99 yards to the house, and fellow Florida speedster Chris Hainey later blocked a punt that was returned 15 yards for a touchdown.
HOW FLORIDA WON: As mentioned before, Florida made big plays on special teams that turned the tide of this game, but it should also be noted that the reason OSU only scored 17 points was that Florida effectively bottled up Braxton Miller on the ground. Miller led the Buckeyes with 15 rushes, but he was only able to get 20 yards total on the ground, and Florida's six sacks on defense were a huge part of that. Ohio State depends heavily on its run game, so when Florida held that ground game to under four yards a pop, half the Gators' work toward getting the W was done.
WHEN FLORIDA WON: The Gators had held a healthy lead for most of the game, but Braxton Miller found Jordan Hall on a swing pass late in the 4th quarter, and about five jukes later, Hall was in the end zone and OSU was within seven points with under a minute left. Alas, Drew Basil's onside kick found its way into the arms of Florida WR Stephen Alli, and that would be all.
WHAT FLORIDA WON: If nothing else, it was enjoyable to see an SEC team win the way SEC teams win: SPEEEEEEEEEED. What Florida did not do, however, is move the ball reliably and turn first downs into scoring drives with any regularity. Florida avoids its first losing season in over 30 years with the win, and Will Muschamp has a bowl win over the Big Ten's historical powerhouse on his resume already, so although six-loss seasons aren't going to be tolerated in Gainesville for very long, this is at least a high note for the Gators to end on and to keep the mood at Florida congenial -- for now.
WHAT OHIO STATE LOST: This isn't goodbye for interim head coach Luke Fickell, who's going to be the co-defensive coordinator for Urban Meyer next year, but this was his swan song as Ohio State's head coach, and if anybody deserved to be carried off the field on the team's shoulders this year, it was Fickell. This wasn't a good Ohio State team. Urban Meyer wouldn't have been able to get more than seven or eight wins out of it. So for Fickell to just go out as a sub-.500 head coach at the end of the year would unfairly obscure the work he did.
THAT WAS CRAZY: In the first quarter, Ohio State knocked the ball out of Florida QB John Brantley's hands as he was passing it. The ball bounced and hit OSU LB Ryan Shazier, who tried to recover it, but his effort was unsuccessful and shortly thereafter the officials blew the play dead as an incomplete pass before anybody else recovered the ball. The play was sent to further review... at which point the replay official awarded the ball to Ohio State for recovering the ball. The fumble was a good call; the recovery was not. Fortunately for Florida, OSU did not convert the turnover into points.
FINAL GRADE: D. This wasn't much like the Ohio State team we'll see next year, thanks to the impending arrival of Urban Meyer. So a game featuring three total offensive touchdowns, two limited offensive performances, one play's worth of end-game drama (a failed onside kick, at that), and zero lead changes isn't exactly going to be exciting. Bah.