Tim Tebow’s reckless fury on the football field has captivated the American public over the past four years. His intensity on the field has been seen through “The Promise” and his fiery halftime speech in last year’s title game. He has played like a linebacker at quarterback, welcoming contact rather than shying away. This style has made #15 a hero in the Swamp and a villain in the SEC. It has earned him a Heisman trophy and two national championships. It almost seemed as though he was invincible. Then the nation was reminded no one is beyond injury in the violent nature of football.
Saturday proved even Superman is human. Recovering from a concussion suffered against Kentucky, Tebow looked normal. He wasn’t crashing into linebackers for first downs or throwing the ball with the same zip. Superman, as he has come to be known, didn’t have his cape. On this night in Death Valley, though, Tebow didn’t need to be superhuman. “Tebow Time” wasn’t needed on 4th down to keep the Gators on the move. His teammates had his back.
On Saturday night, the vaunted Florida defense donned the cape to lead the top-ranked team to victory. It was a dominant effort from a unit returning all 11 starters from last year’s national championship squad. The Superman role was played by multiple parties throughout the night.
All American linebacker Brandon Spikes led the charge. The “Tebow” of the defense was all over the field, accounting for 11 tackles and 2.5 sacks. When it wasn’t Spikes, it was the defensive line. The big guys up front were relentless, constantly swarming in the backfield. The secondary, led by Joe Haden, blanketed the LSU receiving corps, making them invisible much of the night. The Gator “D” has announced to the world there is more than one Superman on the blue and orange. If UF is going to be defeated this season, it’s going to take more than beating Tim Tebow. The path to the national championship runs through the stout defensive unit in Gainesville. And right now it’s going to take a herculean effort to beat them. Saturday also revealed a punishing running game behind a stable of backs. Jeff Demps, Emmanuel Moody, and Chris Rainey pounded the Tigers on a litany of dive plays to take the pressure off Tebow.
Superman will surely return to form, making this team even more special. His presence on the field was a testament to his will and desire, but the night belonged to the other side of the ball. That’s just fine with Tebow as the Gators continue on their quest for their third title in four years.
Other thoughts to keep in mind this weekend:
Florida and Alabama look to be evenly matched and on a collision course for Atlanta. They boast the 1st and 2nd ranked defenses in college football. The SEC title is shaping up to be a national semifinal between America’s best.
USC vs. Notre Dame: The rivalry is renewed once again, this year in South Bend. The Irish are flying high with confidence behind the clutch play of Jimmy Clausen. Clausen is at the forefront of a wide-open Heisman race due to three fourth quarter comebacks. This will be the ultimate test for the quarterback as Notre Dame has been embarrassed by USC in recent years. From the Trojans perspective, they are still very much alive in the national championship hunt. USC also has new sense of motivation following Stefan Johnson’s tragic weightlifting accident. The senior was released from the hospital and will recover, but his college career hangs in the balance. His teammates should have a new sense of appreciation for every play. They will wear a decal on their helmets as a reminder. His advice for the Trojans is simple, “Fight on. Beat the Irish.”
Texas vs. Oklahoma: While Florida and Alabama appear to be the elite teams, Texas needs to make a statement in this game. Following an unimpressive performance against lowly Colorado, the Longhorns have slipped behind the SEC powers. A win against Oklahoma would solidify their national championship hopes. Colt McCoy also hopes to impress to get back in the Heisman picture. Oklahoma can turn a disappointing season into a success with a win over their rival. Sam Bradford returns to the field after a shoulder injury kept him sidelined the last few weeks. With a win, Oklahoma would lead the Big 12 race despite their early losses. The Red River Shootout is always a classic, and features two top gunslingers once again.