Nov. 29, 2008
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Tim Tebow threw three touchdown passes, ran for 80 yards and another score, and the second-ranked Gators defeated No. 23 Florida State 45-15 in sloppy conditions Saturday.
Florida (11-1) extended its winning streak to eight games, continued its dominance in the intrastate rivalry and set up a 1-2 showdown with Alabama in next week’s Southeastern Conference title game.
The Gators have won five in a row against Bobby Bowden’s team, and this one was nearly as big a laugher as last season’s 45-12 victory in Gainesville.
Florida scored on five of its first seven possessions, held the Seminoles (8-4) without a touchdown for the first 2 1/2 quarters and again proved that the gap between the two programs is as wide as ever.
Florida State’s day was ruined by Tebow – and Boston College.
Tebow completed 12 of 21 passes for 185 yards and burned the Seminoles with a few scrambles and some key runs up the middle. He also made a key block on Percy Harvin’s TD run, recovered a fumble and made a touchdown-saving tackle following an early fumble.
The Eagles piled on by beating Maryland 28-21, ending Florida State’s chance of getting to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
The Seminoles will wait until next weekend to know their bowl destination.
Florida’s postseason outlook is much brighter. If the Gators can beat Alabama next Saturday in Atlanta, they would lock up a spot in the Bowl Championship Series national title game in Miami.
The Seminoles did little to dampen Florida’s hopes of getting there.
Christian Ponder threw two interceptions, including one on the first play of the second half. Brandon Spikes returned it to the 20-yard line, and Tebow took over from there.
He rolled right on third down and threw a strike across his body to Louis Murphy to make it 35-9. Tebow could have made it worse, but he got stuffed on a fourth-and-1 run near the goal line later in the quarter.
Tebow also had TD passes to Aaron Hernandez and Harvin.
Harvin, the team’s leading receiver, left the game in the second quarter with a sprained right ankle. He limped off the field with the help of trainers and didn’t return.
The Gators hardly missed him, though.
Jeff Demps ran nine times for 89 yards and a touchdown. Chris Rainey added 97 yards rushing. Tebow and the defense did the rest.
Florida outgained the Seminoles 502-242 in yards and had a 3-to-1 advantage for most of the game.
Ponder was benched, and Drew Weatherford led the Seminoles on a touchdown drive midway through the third – it ended FSU’s span of 111 minutes, 44 seconds without a touchdown against Florida – but it did little to spark a comeback. The Seminoles missed the extra point, then failed to recover an onside kick.
The Gators pretty much ran out the clock in the final quarter and a half.