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Peaking at just the right time

Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If we have learned anything during the BCS era in college football, it is that it isn't so much how you lose, but when you lose that matters most.

While everyone is waiting on the edge of their seats for things to be settled in the Big 12 South, the Florida Gators have quietly gone about their business in impressive fashion, all but erasing a bad day back in late September, when the Gators did the unthinkable, losing at home to Ole Miss.

Urban Meyer's team has made everyone else on the schedule pay the price for that one single sign of weakness, and has now set itself up to play for its second national title in the last three years. Of course, there are still two games to play, but the Gators should actually be favored in both, including one against top-ranked Alabama for the SEC Championship.

Urban Meyer's team has scored 42 or more points in six straight games.
Since the loss to the Rebels, Florida has won seven straight games, with the smallest margin of victory being a 28-point romp at Vanderbilt. In addition, the team has now scored 42 or more points in six straight games, the longest such streak in the nation. Most impressive among the lopsided victories were a 51-21 massacre of LSU in Gainesville and an equally devastating 39-10 romp over Georgia in Jacksonville.

The offense is humming right now, as UF is averaging a robust 46.5 ppg, thanks to a balanced attack that is netting over 200 yards per game both on the ground (229.8 ypg) and through the air (214.8 ypg).

Although he is not putting up the kind of numbers that won him the Heisman Trophy last year, All-American QB Tim Tebow has certainly shaken off a slow start to the season and is playing as well as any signal-caller in the country (the Big 12 included) right now. On the year, Tebow has completed almost 66 percent of his passes, for 2,114 yards, with 22 TDs and just two interceptions. He has also added 427 rushing yards and 11 more scores on the ground.

The most dangerous thing about the Florida offense is the fact that Tebow isn't doing it alone anymore. The Gators have playmakers all over this side of the football, including All-American candidate Percy Harvin. The 5-11 junior is as dangerous a player as there is in college football and can kill opponents with his ability to line up all over the field.

A talented runner, Harvin is averaging 9.5 yards per carry this year and has amassed 525 yards rushing and eight TDs. He also happens to be Tebow's favorite target downfield, leading the team in receptions (35), receiving yards (595) and TD receptions (7).

It may not seem possible with a Heisman Trophy winner on this side of the football, but Harvin very well may be the offensive MVP of this team. He is certainly someone that Urban Meyer is never at a loss for words about.

Percy Harvin is as dangerous a player as there is in college football.
"He is one of the top two or three players in the nation. There are things that I've seen him do that I've never seen anyone else do. The next two weeks will be huge for him. There really is no surprise how I feel about him. He'll go down in history as one of the greats at Florida and he's worked for that."

As great as the offense has been, the Florida defense deserves plenty of credit as well. The unit is among the nation's best, holding opponents to just 12.0 ppg (third nationally) on a mere 278.7 yards of total offense (ninth nationally).

Speed kills, and Florida has plenty of that on defense. Up front, the defensive line is anchored by sophomore rush end Carlos Dunlap, who leads the team in TFLs (nine) and sacks (seven). The secondary, one of the best in the country, is highlighted by the ball-hawking skills of sophomore Ahmad Black (six interceptions). The heart-and-soul of the unit, however, can be found in the middle in the form of junior linebacker Brandon Spikes, who is vying for All-American honors as well with a team-high 74 tackles, 8.0 TFLs, 2.0 sacks and three INTs.

The Gators are red-hot right now, but know there is plenty of work still ahead of them, starting with Florida State this weekend. If Florida continues its dominant play and knocks off the Seminoles, the top-ranked Crimson Tide are next on the docket, with a spot in the SEC Championship and trip to the BCS title game on the line.

The Tide have had a remarkable season, but I'm not sure there is a team in the country with the kind of momentum that Florida has right now and as we all know, momentum is everything at this time of the year.
Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Scott Haynes at shaynes@sportsnetwork.com.
Scott Haynes

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