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ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Forget BCS -- Florida No. 1

Gators look like the best in the nation after humiliating their former coach on the field where he once reigned.

November 16, 2008|CHRIS DUFRESNE | Dufresne is a Times staff writer.

The best team in the country right now is not Alabama, Texas Tech, Texas or Oklahoma.

It isn't Utah (Utes don't deserve it), USC (didn't cover spread versus Stanford), Boise State (trailed Idaho, 7-0) or David Letterman's mighty Ball State (can't consider schools that play on Tuesdays).

The way they looked Friday night against Detroit, it's not even the Lakers.

The best team -- not last August, not last month, maybe not the day after tomorrow, but this minute -- is Florida.

Florida did something Saturday that's never been done at the Swamp: It humiliated Steve Spurrier.

Spurrier was 13-2 at Florida Field as a Gators player, 68-5 as a Gators coach from 1990 through 2001. He was 0-1 there as South Carolina's coach before Saturday, and now he's 0-2.

But only once, in 1993 against Florida State, had Spurrier suffered a double-digit defeat in Gainesville. And that score was only 33-21.

Saturday, though, Florida put the kind of 56-6 hurt on South Carolina that Spurrier's Gators teams used to put on opponents.

Georgians can tell you about how, in 1995, Spurrier ran up a 52-17 tab against the Bulldogs in Athens.

They'll tell you Spurrier wanted to hang "half-a-hundred" on Georgia just because he could.

No number that obscene (for a visiting team) had ever illuminated the Sanford Stadium scoreboard.

Well, Spurrier just got half-a-hundred hanged on him.

He got a taste of his own.

Florida Coach Urban Meyer, like Spurrier, isn't one to let off the gas or easily forgive perceived sins. That's why, leading 49-10 against Georgia this year, he called two timeouts late just to prolong the payback.

You thought he forgot about Georgia storming the field last year after scoring first?

Florida's demolition of South Carolina should open eyes.

You can bet players and coaches at Oklahoma and Texas Tech were watching. Both schools had the weekend off as they await next week's showdown in Norman.

Alabama defeated Mississippi State and will probably stay No. 1 in the Bowl Championship Series standings.

BCS No. 3 Texas looked good in a win at Kansas. USC scored 28 second-half points to pull away from Stanford.

But Florida, today, is top of the heap.

South Carolina was not South Hampton. The Gamecocks were ranked third nationally in total defense, allowing opponents an average of 256 yards a game.

Florida finished with 519.

Opponents had averaged only 15.6 points a game on the South Carolina defense.

Florida scored 56.

But what about the Mississippi mess-up? The Gators lost to the Rebels, at home, on Sept. 27, by the score of 31-30.

Quarterback Tim Tebow, last year's Heisman Trophy winner, was stuffed on a fourth-down play to seal defeat . . . remember?

About Ole Miss: That was a long, long time ago.

It only proves now you can survive one crummy day and still get to play for big prizes.

Since the Ole Miss misstep, Florida has crushed Arkansas, Louisiana State, Kentucky, Georgia, Vanderbilt and South Carolina.

The scores were 38-7, 51-21, 63-5, 49-10, 42-14 and 56-6.

After Ole Miss, a choked-up Tebow stood before reporters and apologized for the effort and vowed it would never happen again.

"I promise you one thing," he said. "A lot of good will come out of this. You have never seen any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season, and you will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season."

Tebow has kept his promise.

The Gators are so fast their nickname could be the Blue Blurs.

Their collective speed on offense and defense is frightening.

Surrounding Tebow on Saturday was a fleet of flyers: Percy Harvin had 167 yards in eight carries with two touchdowns. Jeffrey Demps, a freshman and one of the fastest players in football, averaged 10.8 yards in his four rushing touches, one of which went for a score. Redshirt freshman Chris Rainey had 55 yards and a touchdown.

Forget Ole Miss -- that's yesterday's blues.

Florida is on the BCS march. The Gators have already clinched the Southeastern Conference East. They have Citadel and Florida State left before meeting Alabama for the conference championship on Dec. 6.

Another season appears headed toward another down-to-the-wire finish.

President-elect Barack Obama, as if he doesn't have more important things to do, has expressed interest in trying to mount another playoff campaign in college football. He will say on CBS's "60 Minutes" tonight that he will "throw my weight around a little bit" in trying to get an eight-team proposal on the docket.

Of course, nothing will be done. The school presidents have, to paraphrase a former U.S. president, made themselves "perfectly clear."

The best we can hope for this year, as always, is a clean finish with only enough controversy to keep things interesting.

One of the obvious contenders is three victories from leaving no doubt it belongs in Jan. 8 title game.

Heed their call:

Chomp, chomp.

--

chris.dufrense@latimes.com

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