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Archive for Sunday, November 5, 2006

Florida clinches SEC East

November 5, 2006

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— Urban Meyer and his Florida Gators care only about victories, not style points or pretty stats.

Chris Leak ran for two touchdowns and threw for another Saturday as the seventh-ranked Gators survived Vanderbilt's fourth-quarter rally for a 25-19 win, their 16th straight victory in the series.

"Winning's all that matters," Florida coach Urban Meyer said.

Maybe not. The Gators were fourth in the Bowl Championship Series standings last week and moving up won't be easy if they continue to play tight games.

"Are we playing all the time like a championship team? No," Meyer said. "Championship teams take a big swing at you in the third, fourth quarter and knock you down. We're not doing that."

With the win, and Tennessee's 28-24 loss to LSU, the Gators (8-1, 6-1) clinched the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division title for the first time since 2000 and a berth in the league championship game.

"It would be great for our program and great to do something that hasn't been done since 2000," Meyer said before getting on the plane to return home to Florida.

The Vanderbilt Commodores (4-6, 1-5) are making a habit of scaring the Gators.

They took the Gators to double overtime last season in the Swamp. On Saturday, they came in looking for another upset of a ranked team after breaking a 14-year and 49-game drought in such games at Georgia last month.

The defense did its part by sacking Leak four times and intercepting him three times - a season-high for the Gators.

"Vanderbilt is a very disciplined defense on playing their assignments," Leak said.

The Commodores scored 13 points in the fourth quarter against Florida, including a 31-yard touchdown catch by Earl Bennett with 2:30 left, to pull within 25-19. Not until Florida recovered an onside kick were the Gators in the clear.

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