GAINESVILLE, FLA. P.K. Sam ran a twisting, whirling, falling-down pass route for a 52-yard touchdown that lifted Florida State to a 38-34 victory over Florida Saturday, a spectacular game that was marred by a brawl at midfield after the game ended.
Sam's catch with 55 seconds remaining pushed No. 9 Florida State (10-2) to the 10-win plateau for the first time since 2000. No. 11 Florida (8-4) had its five-game winning streak halted, along with any hopes of sneaking into the Southeastern Conference title game.
The last touchdown, the third TD throw of the day for Chris Rix, was a thrilling climax to a game that had a bit of everything -- great plays, terrible officiating and back-and-forth scoring.
The emotion, however, caught up with the players: When the Seminoles went to midfield to celebrate the win, they were greeted by the Gators, who didn't want them jumping up and down on their "F" at midfield. Punches were thrown, and helmets went flying.
Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley and FSU sports information director Rob Wilson jumped in the middle to separate the 100 or so players, and police used pepper spray to disperse them.
"I have no idea what happened," Florida coach Ron Zook said. "But I promise you, if our guys were involved, we'll get it straightened out."
There were no immediate reports on injuries from the fight.
The lead changed hands four times in the fourth quarter. With 2:55 left, Florida went ahead 34-31 on Ben Troupe's 26-yard touchdown catch from Chris Leak in the back of the end zone. Troupe got one foot down; the official stared hard at the play, and initially brought his arms to the side, as though he were going to call it incomplete.
But he raised his hands to signal a touchdown, one of the few calls that went Florida's way on a day that will surely not grade out well for the Atlantic Coast Conference officiating crew, headed by referee Jack Childress.
The crew made at least three questionable calls on fumbles -- calling players down when they weren't or vice versa -- and absolutely blew at least two more, including giving Seminoles tailback Leon Washington credit for a fumble recovery even though Florida linebacker Channing Crowder sprinted out of the pile with the ball.
Four plays after that call, Rix dove over the goal line for a touchdown that gave the Seminoles a 31-27 lead. But there were still five minutes left, and the fun was just beginning.
Indeed, it was a barnburner, a game that will be debated and rehashed for years to come, although there's no changing the result now. The Seminoles defeated their archrivals for the fifth time in six years. They are ACC champions and will go into their BCS bowl on a high.
The Gators, meanwhile, won't make it to the SEC title game next week. Tennessee's win over Kentucky made it almost impossible, and Florida's loss itself ended all hope. The honor, instead, officially will go to Georgia. Florida still has a chance to make it to Atlanta Jan. 2 if Peach Bowl representatives offer the Gators a bid, as expected.
No. 5 Georgia 34, Georgia Tech 17
Atlanta -- Georgia did its part. And everything else went the Bulldogs' way, sending them back to the Southeastern Conference championship game. Freshman center Nick Jones fell on a fumble in the end zone, Bryan McClendon blocked a punt to set up another touchdown and Georgia defeated Georgia Tech for the third year in a row. The Bulldogs (10-2) came into the day needing two things to happen. They had to beat Georgia Tech, which they did convincingly, and Tennessee had to knock off Kentucky to force a three-way tie for the SEC East title with Georgia and Florida. Tennessee won, 20-7, and when Florida lost to Florida State that wrapped up the title for the Bulldogs. The matchup against LSU will be made official today.
No. 7 Tennessee 20, Kentucky 7
Lexington, Ky. -- Cedric Houston ran for 87 yards and a touchdown, and Tennessee (10-2, 6-2) used a dominating defense to hold Kentucky to 187 yards and clinch a share of the SEC East division title with Georgia and Florida.
No. 10 Miami 28,
No. 20 Pittsburgh 14
Pittsburgh -- Tyrone Moss and Jarrett Payton became the latest running backs to exploit Pitt's weak rush defense, running for more than 100 yards each, and Miami locked up a share of its eighth Big East title and a BCS bowl. Miami (10-2, 6-1) exited the Big East for the ACC the same dominating way it entered in 1992 -- on top, with everybody else playing catchup. The Hurricanes officially share the conference title with West Virginia (8-4, 6-1), but it's Miami that's heading to a big bowl -- almost certainly the hometown Orange Bowl, where they last played during the 1994 season.
No. 18 Boise State 56, Nevada 3
Boise, Idaho -- Ryan Dinwiddie threw for 375 yards and four touchdowns and also ran for two scores as Boise State clinched its second straight WAC championship.
No. 19 TCU 20, SMU 13
Dallas -- Robert Merrill ran for 98 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown with 7:18 left, and TCU rebounded from its BCS dream-shattering loss by beating SMU (0-12). The Horned Frogs (11-1) have their most wins since 1938.
Virginia 35, No. 21 Virginia Tech 21
Charlottesville, Va. -- Wali Lundy ran for three touchdowns and caught a pass for another, helping Virginia end its four-year losing streak against Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers (7-5) scored 21 straight points in the second half, twice converting on fourth down from the one.
No. 22 Bowling Green 31, Toledo 23
Bowling Green, Ohio -- Josh Harris threw for three touchdowns and caught another one, leading Bowling Green to a spot in the Mid-American Conference title game.
No. 24 W. Virginia 45, Temple 28
Morgantown, W.Va. -- Jason Colson rushed for two touchdowns in his first career start, and West Virginia clinched a share of its first Big East title since 1993. Lance Frazier returned a punt for a touchdown and set up another score with an interception for West Virginia (8-4, 6-1 Big East).