Short and sweets: Best UF rushers in bowl history


Published: Friday, December 28, 2012 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 12:17 a.m.

Treat yourself to a collection of Sugar Bowl tidbits.

Key matchup

Louisville center Mario Benavides vs. Florida nose tackle Omar Hunter

Benavides, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound center, and Hunter (6-foot, 313 pounds) have had similar careers in that they are both redshirt seniors who have had their best seasons in 2012.

Hunter will have a weight advantage on Benavides, but the 23-year-old Louisville center is quick and crafty. He was named to the All-Big East first team this year.

“I've played against nose guards who were heavy or heavier and I've had success,” Benavides said. “It's all about execution and technique. I don't think weight really matters. If I was 220, I'd be worried, but I'm not.”

If Florida is going to stuff the running game on early downs, it will need another solid game from Hunter.

Bowl studs

The best rushing performances by Florida players in bowl games:

1. 1998 Citrus Bowl — Fred Taylor, 43 carries for 234 yards. Steve Spurrier rode Taylor to a win over Penn State.

2. 1967 Orange Bowl — Larry Smith, 23 carries for 187 yards. Smith's night included a 94-yard run for a score against Georgia Tech.

3. 1992 Gator Bowl — Errict Rhett, 39 carries for 182 yards. Rhett led Florida to a win over N.C. State in the Fog Bowl.

4. 2008 Capital One Bowl — Percy Harvin, 13 carries for 165 yards. Offense wasn't the problem for the Gators in a loss to Michigan.

5. 1988 All-American Bowl — Emmitt Smith, 28 carries for 159 yards. His total included a 55-yard touchdown run on Florida's first play from scrimmage.

UF in the Sugar Bowl

2010 — Florida 51, Cincinnati 24

Urban Meyer's flip-flop didn't bother the 2009 team and these Gators were able to overcome the loss in the SEC Championship Game to throttle the Bearcats. Florida set 11 Sugar Bowl records and four BCS bowl game records. Tim Tebow completed 12 straight passes at one point and finished his Florida career with 533 yards of total offense in his final game.

Key stat: Florida finished with 482 passing yards, and Tebow threw three touchdown passes.

MVP: Tebow.

Quote, unquote

“I went down to Bourbon Street early so I missed all that after-dark stuff.”

Xavier Nixon, Florida offensive tackle

Senior salute

This will be the last game of the college careers of Florida's seniors. Each day we'll take a look at the career of one of those players.

CALEB STURGIS — The St. Augustine product has been money during the last two seasons, making 45-of-53 field-goal attempts and twice being a finalist for the Lou Groza Award.

Sturgis scored 110 points for UF as a true freshman and kicked the game-winner against Arkansas in 2009. But he attempted only four field goals in 2010 when he hurt his back lifting weights and missed a good portion of the season.

Sturgis has made more than 20 kicks in each of his other three seasons and has the UF record with eight field goals of 50 yards or more.

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