JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — After consecutive sluggish wins over Arkansas and Mississippi State, Florida head coach Urban Meyer said his players and coaches endured “a tough week, a hard week of practice” leading up to their rivalry against Georgia.
The Gators (8-0, 6-0) extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 18 games and clinched at least a share of the SEC East title. The Bulldogs (4-4, 3-3) lost for the third time in four games.
“It was a very emotional locker room in there,” Meyer said. “It was senior day, and it was special for those seniors to give that kind of effort. It’s one of the best wins we’ve had at Florida.”
Florida drove right down the field on the first possession for a touchdown and added a second score on its next possession to build the early 14-0 advantage. Both scores came via Tim Tebow passes to Riley Cooper (from 22 and 29 yards), including one circus catch in the back of the end zone.
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“That’s as fine a catch as you’ll ever see,” Meyer said. “What a catch. And that’s as good a first quarter as we have played. We were really efficient in that quarter.”
The Gators were efficient throughout the game.
Tebow completed 15-of-21 passes for 164 yards and rushed for 85 more yards and two more touchdowns on 18 carries.
Cooper finished with four catches for 78 yards.
“That’s the way we’re supposed to play,” Cooper said. “We had a good week of practice and came out and played that way.”
Georgia got to within 14-10 in the second quarter. But the Gators, behind Tebow and place-kicker Caleb Sturgis, regained control and pulled away.
Sturgis made a 56-yard field goal late in the second quarter and added a 44-yarder later.
“Caleb has a big leg, and that was an important kick in the second quarter, a big momentum boost for us,” Meyer said. “And Tim was just typical Tim. He played a really good game and led us all the way.
“The only way to have fun in this business is to win and sing that fight song at the end. We got to do that because of the work we put in.”