Gators Help Urban Meyer Relax in Sugar Bowl Blowout
NEW ORLEANS - Tim Tebow had promised to find a way to help Urban Meyer find ways to relax more amid concerns for his coach's health.
For a night, Tebow and the fifth-ranked Gators figured out just how to make things a little less stressful for the Florida head coach - with a 51-24 Sugar Bowl blowout Friday night of No. 4 Cincinnati before 65,207 at the Louisiana Superdome.
It was one point shy of the bowl record of 52 points, also scored by the Gators in winning the 1996 national title by beating Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.
Tebow, a senior and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, completed 31 of 35 passing attempts for a Sugar Bowl-record 482 yards passing and three touchdowns in being named the game's MVP.
He also ran for 51 yards on 14 carries to set a BCS bowl record for total offense with 533 yards. Tebow's four TDs (one rushing, three passing) also set a bowl mark. Florida finished with 659 yards total offense, to tie the BCS record set by the Gators in the 2002 Orange Bowl vs. Maryland.
The only possession the Gators did not score on during the first half was a 39-yard field goal miss by Caleb Sturgis just prior to halftime.
Meyer - who first resigned on Saturday as Florida's head coach because of health concerns then decided to take a leave of absence instead the next day - is now 6-1 overall as a head coach in bowl games (4-1 at Florida). The Gators are now 5-1 in BCS bowl games. Florida became the first school in FBS history to win 13 games in consecutive seasons.
Florida (13-1) scored the first 23 points of the game, the third-largest consecutive scoring streak in the school's bowl history. The Gators scored 28 consecutive points against Florida State in winning the '96 national crown.
Tebow also set a Sugar Bowl record by opening the game with 12 straight completions. It was 30-3 at the half as the Gators completely dominated with 370 yards total offense in the opening 30 minutes.
In a season which saw Tebow's numbers drop from previous seasons throwing the ball, he was spectacular against the Bearcats, completing a 20 of 23 passes for 320 yards in the opening half. At the same time Cincinnati (12-1), the nation's No. 6 offense, had 55 yards total offense in the first half.
Aaron Hernandez, who sent a school record for tight ends with nine receptions for 111 yards, caught a 7-yard TD pass from Tebow to finish off Florida' 13-play, 84-yard drive on its first possession.
The Gators made it 9-0 on a 40-yard Sturgis field goal on their second possession. Then things really came unraveled for the Bearcats - who looked overwhelmed. A 12-play, 64-yard drive climaxed with a 7-yard throw from Tebow to Deonte Thompson to make it 16-0. A 3-play drive over 66 yards was finished off by Emmanuel Moody's 6-yard TD run.
The exclamation point of the half: an 80-yard pass play from Tebow to roommate Riley Cooper, who caught 7 balls for 181 yards.It was the second-most individual receiving yardage in Sugar Bowl history. And it was the second-longest play by the Gators in a bowl, bested only by Danny Wuerffel's 82-yarder to Ike Hilliard in the '95 Sugar Bowl.
Florida averaged 10 yards an offensive play in the second quarter - 23 plays for 231 yards.
The Bearcats' only points came on a 47-yard field goal by Jacob Rogers. Touchdown runs by Tebow and Moody made it 44-10 at the end of the third quarter, and Meyer was left to relax as his team piled up amazing offensive numbers.
Cincinnati's Tony Pike finised 27 of 45 for 170 yards with three touchdowns - most of his offense coming with the game's outcome already determined. He had only 60 yards passing at halftime.
Notes: Florida junior center Maurkice Pouncey, the 2009 winner of the Rimington Award as the nation's top center, spent close to five hours in the Tulane Hospital, going there at approximately 9:30 a.m. Friday to get treatment after he was diagnosed with kidney stones. He was still able to start against Cincinnati. Pouncey, who is expected to announce soon whether or not he will leave early for the NFL. underwent a CT scan that showed no obstruction of the kidneys. He was also given four bags of IV fluids and suffered from pain in is lower back. Team physician Dr. Jay Clugston, a UF neurologist and Tulane ER physicians all cleared Pouncey to play in the game, however, after spending all day trying to get healthy enough to take the field.