Gators likely Sugar Bowl-bound after beating FSU


Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp celebrates with running back Mike Gillislee at the end of the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday Nov. 24, 2012 in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida defeated Florida State 37-26. (Matt Stamey/Staff photographer)

The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, November 24, 2012 at 7:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 24, 2012 at 10:58 p.m.

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida did its part to create another All-SEC national title game. But Southern Cal let the Gators down.

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Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp celebrates with running back Mike Gillislee at the end of the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday Nov. 24, 2012 in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida defeated Florida State 37-26. (Matt Stamey/Staff photographer)

The Gainesville Sun

The Trojans lost to Notre Dame 22-13 late Saturday night, meaning the BCS National Championship Game will almost certainly be between the winner of the No. 2 Alabama-No. 3 Georgia SEC title game and the No. 1 Irish.

No. 4 (BCS standings) Florida needed a Notre Dame loss to have a real chance to move into the top two of the BCS and play in Miami.

But not a lot could take away from the joy the Gators were feeling as they took the bus ride home from Tallahassee.

Florida scored 24 points in the fourth quarter to beat Florida State 37-26, ending a two-game winning streak by the No. 10 Seminoles and giving the Gators an 11-1 regular-season record. The Gators are almost certainly going to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans this postseason.

(Last time we were in this stadium, it was a 31-7 (loss)," said Florida coach Will Muschamp. "It wasn't tonight."

The Gators started fast, but lost momentum and the lead in the third quarter. Then came a fumble by FSU quarterback EJ Manuel early in the fourth quarter that turned the game around, as Florida rushed for 111 yards in the quarter.

Early in the game, Florida's Mike Gillislee went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season, the first Gator since Ciatrick Fason in 2004 to eclipse the mark. Gillislee then gave the Gators the lead for good with a 37-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He finished with 140 rushing yards before leaving with an injury to his ribs, at which point freshman Matt Jones came in to rush for 81 yards, including the clinching touchdown from 32 yards.

"We had a lot of confidence coming in here being able to run the football," Muschamp said. "We've run it well vs. everybody. We've run it well vs. better defenses."

FSU came into the game with the nation's No. 1-ranked defense, but Florida finished with 394 yards. Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, who missed last week's game with an ankle sprain, threw for 147 yards and a big 14-yard touchdown pass to Quinton Dunbar with seven minutes left in the game.

"There were times when I tried to do too much too soon," Driskel said. "But in a game like this, a little ankle injury can't be an issue."

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