Not hitting on all cylinders, Gators still drive on

BY foxsports • October 18, 2009

CFN's Instant Analysis of No. 1 Florida's 23-20 victory over Arkansas:

Moving on

In the end, it really didn't matter. The SEC champion, even if it has one loss, is almost certainly going to play for the national title, but Florida wants more than to just win the SEC title and get to the BCS championship. This is a team that wants to make a huge statement, and even in a tough, close win, it made one.

Every top team has a game when things aren't working quite right. Florida didn't have linebacker Brandon Spikes, Tim Tebow was still trying to get his head cleared up and the fumbles were coming in droves. The Gators lost the ball four times, the secondary gave up several big plays and this wasn't a Florida-like performance. But the team survived and moved on.

The game was at home, and no one's confusing Arkansas with Alabama as far as being a complete team, but Tebow came up with the throws he needed to make in the fourth quarter, Caleb Sturgis hit his kick while Alex Tejada missed two big ones and Florida got out with the win. Florida won a game it shouldn't have, which is what the top teams do, but this might also be a sign the Gators have the potential to get tagged. Even though this was a win, it might be speech-making time against for Tebow.

— Pete Fiutak

Still the team to beat

Survive. That's all you can hope to do these days in college football. It sure wasn't pretty, but Florida survived, which is what mattered most in Gainesville on Saturday.

That the Gators are vulnerable is hardly noteworthy any longer. Go ahead and name the school that's above being knocked off on a bad day. There were hints in the visit from Tennessee that the aura of invincibility was fading. The win over LSU wasn't exactly a coronation. In other words, Florida can't just show up and expect to win. Still, the point is that it did win on a day when Arkansas might have been the better team and could have delivered the shocker with a couple more red-zone conversions. As long as No. 15 is imposing his will on the game and the defense doesn't lose linebacker Brandon Spikes for too long, the Gators are the team to beat. Still.

Florida can be beaten. Will it be beaten? It's never easy dethroning the champ, even if its knees have already buckled a few more times than anyone anticipated.

— Richard Cirminiello

Make the calls right

1. Hmmmmm ... a phantom defensive pass interference call, followed immediately by a ridiculous personal foul call and later succeeded by a crystal-clear miss of yet another offensive pass interference call on Florida receiver Riley Cooper. This was a hotly contested, hard-fought and heartstopping SEC showdown, and yet — for the third time in as many weeks — the CBS game of the week was overshadowed by the zebras. We'll just have to bang the drum again and again until college football's bigwigs and power brokers take action: Make every call reviewable by replay, preferably by a league supervisor (or assistant supervisor) of officiating. When the National Hockey League reviews calls during games, on-site administrators will sometimes call (or be called by) someone watching a monitor at the league's headquarters in Toronto. If that's what it takes to fairly adjudicate close college football games — with all the money, pride and prestige at stake — then by golly, do so!

2. As much as officiating mattered in this game, Arkansas — for all its resolve, resilience and resourcefulness — can't say this game was taken out of its hands by forces it couldn't control. Ryan Mallett's red-zone misfires, Greg Childs' drops and Alex Tejada's missed kicks cost the Hogs a heap of points. Much as Oklahoma didn't translate physical domination into scoreboard domination against Texas, Bobby Petrino's bold bunch couldn't close the sale against the defending national champions. This was a game strongly influenced by officiating, but not decided by it. There's a big difference.

— Matt Zemek

Tebow delivers

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