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(Friday, January 1st)
Final Score: (5) Florida 51, (4) Cincinnati 24
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Tim Tebow put an exclamation point on his historic college resume, throwing for a career-high 482 yards and three touchdowns while adding a rushing score, as No. 5 Florida rolled to a 51-24 trouncing of fourth-ranked and previously unbeaten Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl.
The Superdome crowd witnessed a one-sided affair and what may be the last game coached by Florida's Urban Meyer, who announced earlier in the week he's taking a indefinite leave of absence for health-related reasons. That decision came a day after it was reported he had resigned.
Nonetheless, Meyer was on the sideline to see his offense outgain his alma mater, 659-246. Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, connected on 31-of-35 throws and rushed for 51 yards on 14 carries en route to setting a new BCS total yardage record.
"It was a very special way to go out. These fans make it special, these players and coaches make it special. I couldn't dream of a better way to go out," Tebow said.
Riley Cooper hauled in seven balls for 181 yards and a touchdown, while Aaron Hernandez amassed 111 yards on nine grabs with a TD for the defending BCS champion Gators (13-1), who received two rushing scores by Emmanuel Moody.
Jeff Quinn, serving as the interim Cincinnati (12-1) head coach for the recently departed Brian Kelly, had his hands full with a Florida club trying to rebound from a 32-13 loss to Alabama in the SEC title game.
Cincy's Tony Pike threw for 170 yards and three touchdowns on 27-of-45 attempts, while fellow senior and play-making receiver Mardy Gilyard was held to 41 yards on seven receptions in the lopsided loss.
"We didn't play Bearcat football," Gilyard said. "We didn't execute. There were plays that needed to be made and we just didn't make them. We needed to score and we couldn't get rolling on offense and couldn't stop them on defense. That shows how great Florida is. They have weapons everywhere."
After the Bearcats pulled out a 45-44 victory over Pittsburgh in the regular season finale to capture the Big East title for a second straight year, Kelly signed a contract to be the next head coach at Notre Dame.
Cincinnati then hired a permanent head coach in Butch Jones, who was on hand as a spectator and watched his soon-to-be club move into Florida territory on the first possession of the game.
However, a holding penalty killed the drive and the Bearcats punted away, as Tebow connected on all seven of his attempts on the ensuing 13-play, 84-yard march, capped by a seven-yard TD toss to Hernandez.
The Bearcats blocked the extra point before the first of three consecutive three-and-out series on offense.
Caleb Sturgis' 40-yard field goal with 1:20 left in the first made it 9-0, and Tebow hit Deonte Thompson for a seven-yard score 5:53 into the second.
Moody, filling in for injured running back Jeffery Demps, who dislocated his left elbow in the first quarter, added a six-yard rushing TD after Chris Rainey and Hernandez caught 22 and 23-yard passes, respectively, to quickly move into the red zone.
Jacob Rogers put the Bearcats on the board with a 47-yard field goal with 3:11 left before the break, but on the next play from scrimmage, Cooper brought in an 80-yard TD for a commanding 30-3 lead.
Just before the halftime gun, Sturgis missed a 39-yard field goal in what amounted to the low-point of the game for the Gators.
On the first touch of the second half, Tebow hit his initial three throws, the last a 24-yard toss to Thompson down to the Cincinnati 11-yard line. The Bearcats forced a fourth down, but from the two, Moody took an option pitch to the right and went untouched over the goal line.
With the game no longer in doubt, Pike connected with Marcus Waugh for a two- yard TD with less than five minutes to play in the third.
Tebow had an answer again, tossing a 44-yard bomb to Cooper down the left sideline. Two plays later, the all-purpose quarterback went around the left end for a four-yard score with 2:06 remaining in the quarter.
Armon Binns caught a three-yard TD for Cincy five minutes into the fourth, and, with their starting lineup still in the game, Florida tacked on another TD via a six-yard Rainey jaunt.
Kazeem Alli's six-yard TD reception with 3:43 to play preceded one last curtain call for Tebow, who finally came out on the next possession to resounding applause, as Florida became the first FBS school to win 13 games in consecutive seasons.
"I can give you my personal perspective on him as an athlete, a player, a quarterback, a leader and a winner, and I can't imagine there's ever been another better," Meyer said of Tebow. "If there's one better than him I'd love to shake his hand."
Texas' Vince Young set the previous BCS record with a 467-yard effort in the 2006 Rose Bowl against USC...Steve Addazio, Florida's offensive coordinator, will serve as Florida's head coach during the absence of Meyer, who graduated from Cincinnati in 1986...Florida was making its 19th consecutive bowl appearance, the second-longest active streak in the nation...Cincinnati came in leading the nation in passing efficiency (166.19), and ranking sixth in scoring offense (39.8)...Quinn will be the head coach at Buffalo next season...Carlos Dunlap, who was suspended for the SEC title game following a drunk-driving arrest, had two of the Gators' three sacks...Gilyard also gained 207 yards on eight kickoff returns.
01/02 02:58:19 ET