white helmet era for UC began with a 20-yard Mardy Gilyard kickoff
return in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Friday night. Meantime, the
Florida Gators ditched their white hats for the traditional orange
the cameras flashed, UC was back in the Superdome for a bowl game,
and the New Orleans Bowl and North Texas this wasn't.
was the big time in the Big Easy. Florida from the SEC who's been to
the Sugar Bowl against UC from the Big East who's not used to coming
to such fancy dances.
Bearcats in their first drive in white looked good until a couple
holding penalties sent them backward. For Florida, the opening drive
was "old hat", Tim Tebow 7-7 passing for 61 yards culminating in
a seven-yard touchdown pass to tight end Aaron Hernandez.
did everything right on the first series except make the extra point.
Walter Stewart blocked the attempt by Caleb Sturgis to give Bearcat
fans a little something to cheer about. (Sturgis rebounded though
with a 40-yard-field goal later in the quarter spotting Florida to
the 9-0 lead.)
week long, the UC fans had been the loudest. Maybe they just weren't
used to being at the party, but party they did. Walking back from
the temptations the French Quarter brings, you usually could hear the
"UC" cheer on most every block.
at the very least, the fans had pretty good practice at yelling, even
though early on in this one most of the cheers were nervous energy as
the Gators were the ones moving the chains, while UC stuttered.
and the Gators converted most of their third downs in the first
quarter (3-4). The one they didn't set Sturgis up for his field
goal. UC, on the other hand, converted none of their third downs and
was held scoreless in the first quarter for the first time since the
Oregon State game.
know, you look at the first drive when we come out and we're moving
the ball like we have all year, and we hit a few drive-stopping
penalties and the next drive we have a sack and maybe a dropped
pass," said Tony Pike. "And that stuff adds up. Against
a team like Florida you've got to play your very best. We didn't do
and three and outs and -11 rushing yards is not the way you map out
starting the game. And, when the opposing quarterback has completed
all 10 of his passes despite being sacked twice by Alex Daniels, it
gets worse. Tebow's first incompletion came with 12:32 in the second
quarter after hitting 12 straight (a new Sugar Bowl record). When he
didn't get the Bearcats through the air, he was still able to convert
and 1 with his massive legs.
9:07 in the second quarter when Tebow hit Deonte Thompson for
Florida's second touchdown, ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit appeared to be
prophetic with his statement that, "Florida will DESTROY
Cincinnati". With 12 first downs and 16 more points than the
Bearcats, the Gators were definitely smelling blood. The attack
another ugly UC three-and-out, the Gators went three plays in 50
seconds and continued to administer the spanking 23-0 as the
universal "clicking sound" could be heard in most of the country
on Fox affiliates outside of Gainesville and Cincinnati (and I'm sure
some there, too).
3:11, UC got a brief "yippie" when Jake Rogers hit a 47-yard
field goal to make it 23-3, but then Tebow found Riley Cooper
streaking down the sideline for an 80-yard score and nine seconds
after "yippie", it was yet another score to make it 30-3.
I know from a UC perspective, it
appeared as painful as any game in recent memory. Florida didn't
respect UC, their fans didn't respect UC and the Bearcats did nothing
the first half, Tim Tebow did whatever he wanted for the most part
as the Gators rolled over UC as if they were playing Florida
International. For whatever element of surprise the white hats
were to have, they weren't working.
halftime, Tim Tebow had his FIRST 300-yard game of the season (320).
Two plays into the second half, Tebow had a career-high in passing
yards with 356. Less than four minutes into the second half, Florida
had a 37-3 lead and a lot of the good publicity Bearcat football had
received during the season was being wiped away by a Gator team
making a statement over blowing a chance at the national championship
game. The Bearcats just happened to be the "whipping boys".
you were looking for a bright spot, other than those shiny white helmets,
there were none. OK, if you're really looking, Mardy Gilyard did set
a Sugar Bowl record for kickoff return yards. However, when the
other team is repeatedly kicking off after scoring, your chances at
such a record are enhanced.
at 4:46 of the third quarter, there was a "blip" of a bright spot
when Tony Pike hit Marcus Waugh on a two-yard pass for a touchdown
and the Bearcats cut it to 37-10. For Waugh, usually a linebacker,
it was his first career catch and touchdown. While it was good to
see a senior like Waugh that's worked so hard find the endzone, it
would have been much more meaningful if UC wasn't getting their
behinds handed to them on defense and had a shot at stopping the
Urban Meyer Florida offense.
Tebow rifled through the porous Bearcat "D" again, breaking the
Sugar Bowl record for total offense IN JUST THE THIRD QUARTER. In
the end, he ran one in to make it 44-10.
the game, Florida Coach Urban Meyer said of Tebow, "He's one of the
greatest players ever to play college football."
on the evidence, it was hard to disagree.
Florida fans and Tebow, his last collegiate game was everything they
could possibly wish for. His numbers were astronomical and probably
could've been even more. His performance reminded of watching Bill
Walton as a kid in an NCAA basketball final with UCLA where he made
almost every shot.
was incredible," Tebow said in the post-game. "Just a great
game. It was exactly how you want to go out with these seniors and
these coaches in your last game and your last time together. It just
really doesn't get any better than this."
may not like Tim Tebow because you're sick of hearing of him. You
may think he's overexposed and you may think a lot of things. I
watched him walk into the Superdome waving in his suit and tie as if
he were the Governor. Then, I watched him go through extensive
warm-ups where he threw, he ran, he ran routes, he caught passes, he
did everything. Truth is, he's an excellent player who backs
everything up that anyone says about him. To hear people wonder
about if he's a pro or not is sheer lunacy. Based on what I saw, he
can play quarterback, running back, tight end and probably linebacker
and safety if need be.
the fourth quarter started, with UC being outgained 508 yards to 139,
the only thing the Bearcats could hang their special white hats on
was that they'd only lost the third quarter 14-7. It still had to
be demoralizing to hear the Florida blue and orange folks
chanting,"SEC" in a taunting fashion.
give you an idea of how ineffective the UC defense was, Florida's
first punt took place at 14:05 in the fourth quarter. Of course, you
can't pin it all on UC's defense as Tebow and the Gator offense were
absolutely flawless at times.
Tebow is a great leader, and he leads his troops into battle, and
they succeed," said UC senior Andre Revels.
did move the ball at times in the second half and put another score
on the board with just over 10 minutes left when Tony Pike found
Armon Binns for six. While it was nice to see Pike and Binns finally
hook up, it was honestly a "garbage time" score. But, after
getting wailed on most of the game, anything giving fans a reason to
cheer is good. Airfare, hotels, long drives, etc. aren't
easy--especially when you're team's losing badly.
the good feeling was short-lived, as Tebow led Florida on another
quick drive adding to his super human numbers. I said before the
game that Tebow didn't have an "S" on his chest and UC shouldn't
be intimidated. Having seen it in person now, the guy should have
an "S" on his chest because he was unstoppable on this night.
(Apparently UC was unable to procure any kryptonite from Dr. Voodoo's
shop on Bourbon Street.)
suppose out of admiration, UC pulled out their "Wildcat/Tebow"
look after months in mothballs when Travis Kelce came in for a couple
plays. He did run for 19 yards, but try as he might, he's not Tim
it was borderline punishment having to watch Tebow riddle the Bearcat
defense for all of those yards, UC fans can at least say they saw
arguably the best college football player of the decade in person.
wouldn't have happened at the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
took in "Tebowstock" Friday night. Years from now, Florida fans
will say it was his greatest night ever, while UC fans probably will
come around and speak favorably of the lefty.
you're into numbers, outside of Alabama in the SEC championship game,
the Bearcats 24 points was the most Florida had given up all season.
But, let's be honest, it could've been a lot worse.
3:24 left, Urban Meyer lifted "Superman" in favor of back-up John
Brantley. Tebow's final numbers: 14 carries for 51 yards and a
touchdown, 31-35 passing for 482 yards and three touchdowns. In
doing so he collected 533 yards in total offense and obliterated most
Sugar Bowl records. 51-24 Florida was your final as the Gator
faithful went off to do that annoying chopping motion all up and down
the French Quarter.
thus, the final offensive play of the "white helmet era" turned
out to be a six-yard touchdown pass from Tony Pike to Kazeem Alli
with 3:43 left in the game giving UC it's final points. Minutes
later the Florida offense ran it's final plays and that was that.
the Sugar Bowl came to an end, so did the most confusing month in the
history of UC football. A month ago, the Bearcats had an improbable
win and all of the momentum in the world heading into their second
BCS bowl game.
a coach left despite an unblemished season, another one was hired and
an interim was given the charge of beating the defending national
has nothing to do with our team's effort," said Jeff Quinn. "But
it doesn't help, you know? It's never easy to have coaching changes
right before your season ends. It's hard to do. You go through this
thing all together. And it's just like a player not being there
that's a key guy. Just like your head coach, Brian Kelly. To
lose him at this point was not an easy thing to do. But at the same
time, you know, we made the best of it. I'm proud of it, the work our
kids put in to get ready for this game."
coaching staff at UC did their best, but realistically, most of them
aren't going to be around next season. Realistically, the staff and
players couldn't have been as focused as they might have been if
things were status quo like they were a month ago.
Cincinnati Bearcats this year have been counted out 13 times,"
said a defiant Andre Revels. "12 times in a row we came away with a
victory. One time, one time you guys got it right, and that's today.
But don't take anything away from our credibility. Our record
speaks for itself."
Brian Kelly sits somewhere tonight around South Bend with a job ahead
of him, but another left uncompleted.
the 2010 season and Butch Jones and (hopefully) "Back In Black"!