Crazy game, but all that matters is Gators won

Florida running back Lamical Perine runs after a catch Saturday against Miami at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. [Matt Pendleton/Correspondent]

ORLANDO — A work of art, this was not.

A victory, it was.

I’m not saying that’s all that matters, but in the end, yeah, it kind of is all that matters.

Florida won. Miami lost.

How both teams got to the final result was as crazy as the traffic.

“That,” UF coach Dan Mullen said, “was exhausting.”

It was a lesson in mistakes and there is a part of you that wants to erase it from your DVR right away. It was that ugly on both sides.

But …

Florida won. Miami lost.

Miami may feel a lot better about its team than it did going in. Florida may feel a lot more unsure about its team than it did before the season.

(Hey, wait a minute, I think Florida just sacked Jarren Williams again.)

The Gator defense was all over Williams for 10 sacks, but kept getting him off the hook in the last four minutes with pass interference penalties. Florida had 100 yards in penalties and wasn’t even close to being the most penalized team on the field Saturday night.

If you have dried out your clothes from the suffocating humidity, you are probably relieved more than celebrating. This was as crazy a game as you’ll ever see, a fitting tribute to the start of the 150th season of college football.

And here’s why. It gave us the back-and-forth and wild celebrations in the stands and on the sidelines and bizarre turns that we love about college football.

(For gosh sakes, Miami fumbled twice on its last drive and recovered both.)

And it also gave us the realization that these are still young men who make mistakes and seemed to be committed to seeing which team could make the most.

There was nobody on either team who epitomized the roller-coaster of emotions and performance as Florida’s Feleipe Franks.

You can go ahead and cross him off your “darkhorse Heisman” candidate list because what we saw Saturday night was not good.

And yet, he threw for 254 yards and was responsible for three touchdowns.

His three turnovers — the fumbled exchange in the first half and two picks in the second — reminded you of the quarterback you nearly booed off the field last year.

Seriously, at halftime I was starting to understand why we haven’t been allowed at practice for the last few weeks. Mullen has been praising Franks all summer, but the quarterback was a mess at times and looked like he didn’t trust his shaky offensive line.

His 65-yard pass to Josh Hammond was the most important play of the game, but he came right back to throw a ridiculous interception that could easily have doomed Florida.

It came with 4:30 to go and Florida up by what would become the final score. It seemed like an odd call on first down. It seemed like a worse throw and decision.

It was the kind of play your veteran quarterback cannot make. The defense bailed him out, but just barely, forced to stay on the field forever thanks to a stunning pass interference penalty on fourth-and-34.

The Gators got a break when a flag was thrown in the end zone, but then picked up. And then they pinned their ears back and got after the Miami redshirt freshman quarterback.

Finally, they forced him into a feeble wobbler of a pass that fell harmlessly to the ground with 12 seconds to play.

Franks, who had been shaken up on that interception, came back into the game to run the victory formation and when the clock expired on a wild and crazy night, he punted the ball into the stands.

There was both frustration and exhilaration in that punt.

“Emotion,” Franks said.

Things hardly went the way he dreamed and still, he was the winning quarterback.

Which is kind of a big deal.

“There wasn’t any concern or lack of confidence in him, or what he was going to do,” Mullen said. “I was very pleased with that.”

Look, this was a really good defense Florida played with all kinds of incentive.

It was one game. Franks and the offense have to get better, don’t they?

Or perhaps Florida is back to having their decade-old quarterback problem.

There is a long way to go. Heck, it’s a long way to the next game.

All I know for sure about Saturday night is this.

Florida won.

Miami lost.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at

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