Florida Gators 24 – Ohio State Buckeyes 17: Winning Record Secured With Gator Bowl Victory

How nice is it to win? The answer is very nice. Regardless of the circumstances or situation, a win can become a moment of happiness or at the very least relief that’s much needed and desired. In this instance, it meant 7-6 and not 6-7 for the Florida Gators. Defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Gator Bowl 24-17 secured a winning record for Will Muschamp is his first year as a head coach. The season was far from pretty, but it ended on a positive note. A win is a win.

To say the Gators improved to 7-6 could be construed as reaching, but that’s what the bowl season is about. The last hurrah for your team. You’re hoping to hold on to that final moment, those 60 remaining minutes before your team goes into hibernation. It can be a joyous occasion or one to forget. In Florida’s case it became one lasting memory for the seniors and something to carry those players that will be back for 2012 into the spring semester. Again, a win is a win and winning is good.

A loss would have meant the first losing season for the Gators since 1979. While that didn’t happen, a longer streak was broken. The Buckeyes hadn’t lost seven games in a season since 1897. 1979 is the year I was born. I’m going to venture a guess and say no one reading this was around in 1897. Then again, I haven’t looked at the Google Analytics in quite some time.

Special teams won it for Florida and the defense did its part. Andre Debose provide the spark with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. You can credit Debose’s speed, but his blockers deserve the applause. You could describe it as a thing of beauty when a play unfolds like that. The other special teams highlight was aggression at its best. Sending the house after the punter resulted in Chris Rainey blocking another one. You think Graham Stewart thought he’d find himself in the end zone during this one? Probably not.

The Florida defense took a page from the Gators’ national championship victory over the Buckeyes five years ago. Pressure the Ohio State quarterback relentlessly and force him to beat you. Braxton Miller didn’t and the defense was able to contain the Buckeyes and limit the big play.

With the long break upon us, I’m sure we’ll talk about this victory more, but for now just enjoy it. As with many others, the real world comes back into the picture on Tuesday. For a few more hours, I can live in the moment of the win.

Morning Reading: Quarterbacks of the Future

The last few quarterback recruiting classes have been less than desirable.  They’ve had their big names, but from top to bottom are hard to call stellar.  It could be due to a shift in the way offenses are run or it could be that younger players are hoping to find the best path to the NFL even earlier.  Good athletes who may not have all the tools the NFL is looking for in a QB may be looking at other positions.  Why stick with being a marginal quarterback prospect when you could possibly be a top wide receiver?
Although overall depth may not be there, there are some impact players this year who any school in need of a quarterback will pursue.
The top quarterback in the 2011 recruiting class on most lists is Hagerty’s (Oviedo, FL) Jeff Driskel.  The 6’4”, 225-pound Driskel has pushed himself to the top of the QB rankings thanks to ideal size and good speed.  He has all of the abilities needed in a quarterback and may be ready to contribute early.  Driskel has already made his choice (fingers crossed he sticks with it!) and will be heading to Florida.
Right behind Driskel are Wayne’s (Huber Heights, OH) Braxton Miller and Butler’s (Matthews, NC) Christian LeMay.  Miller – who has committed to Ohio State – is a great passer who has no trouble throwing on the run.  Although not as big as Terrelle Pryor, Miller figures to flourish in the Buckeyes’ offense.  LeMay – a Georgia commit – has one of the quickest releases you’ll see from a high school quarterback and by all accounts is a great kid.  As the recruiting season continues, both should give Driskel a run for his money as the top ranked QB.
A few others to watch during their senior seasons include Shiloh Christian’s (Springdale, AR) Kiehl Frazier, Northwestern’s (Miami, FL) Teddy Bridgewater, and Chaminade-Madonna Prep’s (Hollywood, FL) Jerrard Randall.