Monday, November 10, 2008
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: A 'Wicked' weekend

Gators will play Alabama for SEC championship

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[November 10, 2008]  NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Florida will get its shot at No. 1 Alabama.

DonutsThe Gators made sure of that with plenty of time to look ahead to the Southeastern Conference championship game on Dec. 6 in Atlanta.

Tim Tebow threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more, and the No. 4 Gators routed Vanderbilt 42-14 Saturday night in clinching the SEC Eastern Division title for the second time in three years.

The Gators (8-1, 6-1) answered the question of whether they would have a letdown coming off their emotional 49-10 win over Georgia by scoring on each of their first four possessions, Ahmad Black intercepted a pass and Carlos Dunlap got his hand on two punts in building a 28-0 lead.

And that was just within the first 18 minutes.

These teams played at night for the first time since 1982 largely because Vanderbilt had a chance to force a tie atop the SEC East by beating the Gators. But the Commodores (5-4, 3-3) instead lost their fourth straight in their bid to become bowl eligible for the first time since, yes, 1982. They now have lost 18 straight in this series.


The Commodores had been winning with opportunistic defense and hadn't allowed an opponent to score more than 24 points in a game this season. That was lost in the opening minutes of the second quarter, and they gave up 330 yards in the first half alone.

A defense that led the SEC in sacks got close to Tebow but couldn't stop the quarterback who looks very capable of winning a second Heisman Trophy. He finished with 88 yards rushing and threw for 171 yards playing less than six minutes into the third quarter before heading to the bench.

Tebow completed his first five passes for 66 yards with a TD and topped his season-high in rushing in a game with 57 yards on six carries in the first quarter. He tossed TD passes to Louis Murphy, Riley Cooper and David Nelson while scoring himself on runs of 26 and 8 yards. He sidestepped defenders, then tossed a 41-yard TD pass to a wide-open Nelson for a 35-0 halftime lead.

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Florida wasn't completely perfect. Vandy linebacker Chris Marve stripped Percy Harvin of the ball near the goal line as the Gators tried to finish off their fifth possession with another TD in the second quarter. D.J. Moore intercepted a John Brantley pass with 3:45 left, giving the Gators a total of eight turnovers this season.

Harvin made up for the fumble by scoring on a 1-yard run on Florida's opening drive of the second half.

The Gators forced Vandy to punt with 1:33 left until halftime, and that was more than enough time for Tebow to move them 80 yards in seven plays for the big cushion.

Vanderbilt avoided the shutout when Chris Nickson replaced Mackenzi Adams, who suffered a neck pointer, for the second half.

Nickson drove the Commodores on drives of 81 and 87 yards. He capped the first with a 2-yard TD to Jamie Graham at the end of the third quarter, then tossed a 14-yarder to Sean Walker late in the fourth on a drive kept alive when Dunlap ran into Vandy punter Brett Upson.

[Associated Press; By TERESA M. WALKER]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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