tampabay.com

BCS title berth still in reach

By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published November 12, 2006


GAINESVILLE - A one-point victory over South Carolina most likely won't earn the Gators any style points with poll voters, but it'll keep the them in the race for a berth in the BCS title game.

Louisville's loss to Rutgers Thursday night, coupled with Auburn's loss to Georgia on Saturday means the Gators could move up to No. 3 in the BCS standings today and continue to control their destiny.

"If all the one-loss teams win out the way you would expect them to, I think Florida would be the favorite to end up No. 2," BCS analyst Jerry Palm said. "A lot of that depends on what the voters do with the Ohio State-Michigan loser. And it could come down to who Florida plays in the SEC title game. But there's no question that it (a national title game berth) is there."

And there's no question the Gators want that chance. Until last week, Florida coach Urban Meyer wouldn't allow his players to even think about uttering the words "play for a national championship." Now, they are openly discussing the possibility.

"I might as well (talk about it) because it's out there," Meyer said. "It's time to start talking about that. But we've got the SEC, we've got to get our guys healthy, play our rivals (Florida State), then go play for an SEC championship."

Meyer said if the Gators finish the season with one loss they should be in the discussion among teams deserving to play for the title.

ALL BANGED UP: Florida's defense is so depleted that with the game on the line in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter two freshmen were in the game. Dustin Doe and Brandon Spikes got significant playing time at linebacker. Spikes had three tackles, Doe two.

Marcus Thomas was thrown off the team two weeks ago. Linebacker Brandon Siler started the game despite a second degree MCL sprain in his left knee. A special brace was flown in from California for Siler, who had three tackles in limited action. "Bless Brandon Siler," Meyer said. "He tried to go. He wasn't playing like Brandon Siler, but he gave it his very best." Senior linebacker Earl Everett sprained his left ankle but said he'll play this week.

LEAK'S RECORDS: With his 273 yards, senior quarterback Chris Leak broke Danny Wuerffel's career record for passing, rushing and receiving yards. Leak has 10,553 yards, surpassing Wuerffel's 10,500. Leak also earned his 31st 200-yard passing game, tying the school record set by Wuerffel.

"I've had 43 starts, so the games all start to get mixed up," Leak said when asked if Saturday's game was the best of his career. "We came out with great focus and great toughness from the offensive line. It was a great win."