When it was all said and done, the Florida Gators defeated the Florida State Seminoles in The Swamp as most predicted. However, that story-line was the second most important of the day for the Gator Nation; by far it will always be remembered as the day Tim Tebow said goodbye to The Swamp.
As each Senior was introduced prior to the game, the 90,000+ people in the stands cheered and waited until the last player ran out of the tunnel to greet his coach and parents. Fittingly, No. 15 was the last name called, and when Tebow's name was announced, the crowd in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field roared like never heard before.
It was an appropriate tribute to the greatest Gator, and quite possibly the greatest college football player in the history of the NCAA.
When the game actually begun, the Gators were fired up and ready to do battle with their in-state rivals. In years past, Florida State was a big-time annual event for in-state bragging rights, but today it was simply a stop on the road to Atlanta and Pasadena.
The only difference with this game was it was Tebow's last in The Swamp.
Tebow's production was typical. He passed for 221 yards and three TDs going 17 of 21. He also rushed for 90 yards on 15 carries scoring two TDs. It also kept him in the running for this year's Heisman Trophy.
When Tebow walked off the field in the fourth quarter, he did it in his legendary unselfish manner. He was replaced by future starting QB John Brantley, and he stood on the sidelines cheering like the fans that were in the stands.
The week preceding today's game saw several tributes to Tebow. ESPN's College Gameday crew was on campus for the game, and of course they were there to pay homage to Tebow. Each tribute was nicely done, but none could capture what Tebow has meant to the University of Florida or the college football world.
Coach Urban Meyer was emotional during his weekly press conference this past Tuesday as he described how it was coaching and working with Tebow. It was more personal than professional for Meyer the past four years, and it has been refreshing to see a strong relationship between coach and player.
If Tebow was nervous or feeling meloncholy during the game, it didn't show. He led the Gator offense like he always did with the skill of an experienced Field Marshall. He passed, he ran, and he scrambled. When it was all said and done, he was victorious.
Even though the Gator fans celebrated the win, they also felt sorry that their beloved Tebow would never play football in The Swamp ever again. History had arrived, and it was bittersweet.
There are two games left for the Gators, and both have championship implications.
First is Alabama. Both the Gators and Crimson Tide are undefeated, ranked No. 1 and 2 respectively, but one will lose and one will go on to Pasadena for the National Championship.
No matter what happens in the coming weeks, the Gator Nation can fall back on the memories Tim Tebow provided. The book is almost over, but two chapters need to be written to complete the story.
Unfortunately, we can't skip to the end to see how it ends.
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