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2012 Gator Bowl Recap

Ohio State Buckeyes vs Florida Gators - Florida 24, Ohio State 17

The Florida Gators didn’t solve all their problems on Monday afternoon. They didn’t transform their outlook for the 2012 regular season. They didn’t wipe away the memory of a very difficult and trying 2011 regular season.

They did, however, spend the first weekday of the new year minimizing the bad taste of their autumnal sojourn. They did manage to maintain a streak which upholds the good name of their football program.

Yes, the Florida Gators scraped by the Ohio State Buckeyes at Everbank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. This was not one of the featured games of January 2 by any means, but when thrust into a matchup of two 6-6 teams who endured all manner of hardships over the course of the regular season, Florida managed to preserve some sense of pride with an authoritative defensive performance.

The Gators held Ohio State to just 299 total yards on the day. The Buckeyes were efficient in throwing the ball – Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller hit 18 of 23 passes in this contest – but they never could push the ball down the field with any regularity. Florida won the field position battle and made Ohio State get first down after first down in order to establish a successful drive. Miller could never find enough arrows in his quiver to make a difference. His high completion percentage nevertheless produced a paltry 162-yard total, leaving the Buckeyes shorthanded on many of their marches. Florida, meanwhile, was able to score two touchdowns on special teams. The Gators got a 99-yard kickoff return from Andre Debose in the first half, and they got a 14-yard return of a blocked punt in the third quarter, good for a 21-10 lead they protected the rest of the way. Ohio State might have been able to do more damage with its passing game on Monday, but two lost fumbles prevented the Buckeyes from doing everything they hoped to achieve.

Florida’s offense hardly rallied around the flag on Monday. The Gators’ offense was a dumpster fire for so much of this season, and with coordinator Charlie Weis now the head coach at the University of Kansas, it was hard to expect a measurable improvement in the Gator Bowl. UF accumulated just 263 yards while committing three turnovers. It was only because of special-teams play that the Gators were able to get out of this tussle alive. Yet, Florida’s survival act protected a very prestigious streak. With this win, Florida finishes the season 7-6 (OSU finishes its season with a 6-7 mark), thereby extending its run of consecutive winning seasons to 24. That’s the longest active streak in major college football. This season was forgettable for Florida, but that 24-year run of winning is something these Gators will want to remember for a long time.

By: Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer

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