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SPOTLIGHT : Florida doesn't dominate but still wins

November 15, 2009|Mike Hiserman

Quarterback Tim Tebow isn't really looking much like a top Heisman Trophy candidate, and Florida, quite often, hasn't looked like a top-ranked team that is favored to win a third national title in four years.

But the Gators just keep on winning.

Twenty in a row, and counting.

Florida recorded its first perfect Southeastern Conference season in 13 years by beating its old coach, Steve Spurrier, and South Carolina, 24-14, Saturday.

Afterward, Spurrier sounded like a lot of people who have watched the Gators this season.

Impressed. Sort of.

"Give Florida credit," he said. "They played pretty well. I don't know if by their standards they thought they played super."

Coach Urban Meyer had the answer: No.

"We did not play perfect," Meyer said. "I'm not sure we've played perfect in a while."

Yet, the Gators keep winning, defensive end Justin Trattou said, because "every week, someone has to step up."

This time it was Trattou, whose fourth-quarter interception with Florida clinging to a 17-14 lead and South Carolina driving, secured the victory.

The turnover "took a lot of steam" out of the Gamecocks, said Spurrier, who has lost four games in a row to the school he played for and program he once coached.

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Real kicks

You had backup kicker Devin Barclay as the hero for No. 10 Ohio State, his 39-yard field goal in overtime the difference in a 27-24 win over No. 15 Iowa that put the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl.

Then, for Duquesne, punter Charlie Leventry, filling in because the regular kicker was ill, converted a 31-yard field-goal try as time expired to lift the Dukes over Sacred Heart, 45-42.

And then there was this: In a Division III game at Sherman, Texas, backup kicker Tom Thompson made a point-after for the Austin College Kangaroos in a 44-10 loss to Trinity.

The big deal?

Thompson, a graduate student, is 61 years old.

It was the first, and probably last, kick of his career.

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Vandalized

Idaho, woeful in recent seasons, is no doubt much improved this year.

It just didn't show against sixth-ranked Boise State.

The Broncos came in averaging 59.4 points at home against the Vandals in five games this decade.

And while Idaho, at 7-4, is better than it has been in years, Boise State bettered its average in a 63-25 win.

One reason: seven turnovers by the ironically named Vandals, six -- five interceptions and a fumble -- by fill-in quarterback Brian Reader, who was making his second start in place of Nathan Enderle, who is out because of a shoulder injury.

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Raising 'cane

Butch Davis was Miami's defensive line coach in its glory years.

Then, after scandal scuttled the Hurricanes, he returned as head coach and brought the program back to prominence.

That brought him an NFL head coaching job. But since that didn't work out, Davis has brought nothing but heartache to his old school.

Since returning to the college ranks at North Carolina, Davis is 4-0 against Miami.

The hero for Davis and the Tar Heels this time was Kendric Burney, who made three interceptions in North Carolina's 33-24 win over the No. 12 Hurricanes.

Burney returned one of his picks for a 77-yard touchdown, then on his last interception fumbled -- some Miami fans might say passed -- the ball ahead to teammate Melvin Williams, who scooped it up and ran the last 44 yards for a touchdown.

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Friends and foes

With friends like Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer, Maryland's Ralph Friedgen doesn't need an enemy.

Beamer and Friedgen began their careers as graduate assistants at Maryland in the early 1970s. They were also on the same staff at the Citadel from 1973 to 1978 and Friedgen was an assistant to Beamer at Murray State in 1981.

But since both have been head coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference, their friendly rivalry has been one-sided.

Beamer and Virginia Tech have won four games in a row -- 36-9 Saturday, 23-13 last year, 28-9 in 2005 and 55-6 in 2004.

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Priority check

Virginia's football program recruited linebacker Mark Herzlich but lost him to Boston College.

But the Cavaliers football program apparently holds no grudge.

Virginia players donated their meal money from Saturday and presented it as part of a check of nearly $10,000 in Herzlich's name to Uplifting Athletes, a nonprofit that works within college football to raise awareness about rare diseases.

Herzlich, last season's ACC defensive player of the year, is battling Ewing's sarcoma, a form of cancer.

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Fighting words

Wisconsin defensive end O'Brien Schofield said he wasn't taking anything for granted, even as the No. 21 Badgers piled up points in a 45-24 win over Michigan.

In the back of his mind: Wisconsin blowing a 19-point lead last year in a loss to the Wolverines.

"I didn't want to think about that," Schofield said. "Because last year, I was like, 'We are killing these guys, these guys are terrible.' . . . That was bad. I had to eat my words."

Not that he was wrong, but he did have to eat his words.

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Philly? Really?

Philadelphia, a college football town?

The Phillies made it to baseball's World Series, the NHL's Flyers are rolling, the NFL's Eagles have been mostly pretty good, and even the NBA's 76ers haven't been a total disaster . . . yet.

But check out the football teams from Temple, Villanova and the University of Pennsylvania.

They have a combined record of 24-5.

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mike.hiserman@latimes.com

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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