ACC Football: Florida 37, Florida State 10
GAINESVILLE, Fla. ó Tim Tebow’s eye black is waterproof.
His perfect season is starting to look shatterproof.
Tebow accounted for five touchdowns in his home finale, a triumphant farewell that included tears on the field and in the stands, and top-ranked Florida thumped rival Florida State 37-10 Saturday for its sixth consecutive victory in the series.
“I don’t want to say goodbye,” coach Urban Meyer said. “The good thing is we’re not done. The negative is we’re done in this great stadium.”
The Gators stayed unbeaten heading into next week’s Southeastern Conference showdown against No. 2 Alabama, extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 22 games and improved to 12-0 for just the second time in school.
Tebow may have even secured a third consecutive trip to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation. He gets one more chance to impress on the big stage next week in Atlanta against the Crimson Tide with a trip to the national championship game on the line.
The Seminoles (6-6) lost for the second time in six games, and longtime coach Bobby Bowden’s likely finale at Florida Field showed exactly why some FSU faithful are urging him to retire: Florida outplayed its in-state rival at every position.
Bowden said he has some “soul-searching” to do before making a decision about his future at Florida State.
“I want to coach next year, but let me say I want to go home and do some soul-searching,” said Bowden, who has 388 career victories, second most in major college football. “I’ve got to run this thing through my mind a few times.”
It might be hard to keep images of Tebow embarrassing his defense again out of those thoughts. Tebow completed 17 of 21 passes for 221 yards. He also ran 15 times for 90 yards against a defense that might be Bowden’s worst in 34 seasons.
It was hardly a surprise considering Tebow torched the ‘Noles the previous two years, totaling eight TDs in those. This one could have been even more lopsided than the 45-12 drubbing in 2007 and the 45-15 beatdown last year. But Meyer pulled many of his defensive starters late in the third quarter.
The Seminoles trailed 30-0 before Bowden opted for a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 2 on the final play of the third.”They have solid players at every position, very fast, very strong, they’re good,” said FSU quarterback EJ Manuel, who threw two interceptions and was sacked three times. “We’ll get to that level one day. Our energy level wasn’t high enough to match their energy level. They’re a high energy team.”
Manuel’s TD pass to Jarmon Fortson was the team’s only cause for celebration on a day that belonged to Tebow, linebacker Brandon Spikes and their fellow seniors who have more wins (47) than any other class in SEC history. They also improved to 12-1 against their four traditional rivals ó Tennessee (4-0), Georgia (3-1), Florida State (4-0) and Miami (1-0).
The revelry started with Tebow making his final walk into The Swamp amid 90,000-plus fans screaming his name. Tebow and Meyer embraced at the 30-yard line as tears flowed down Tebow’s cheeks.