It was hardly convincing, but Florida -- and embattled head coach Will Muschamp -- survived in triple overtime to beat Kentucky 36-30 on Saturday night. The result extends the Gators’ winning streak over the Wildcats to 28 consecutive games. Here are three thoughts from the thriller:
1. Will Muschamp lives to coach another day
Muschamp’s razor-thin job security is well-known at this point, and a loss to Kentucky would have all but guaranteed his ouster. The win won’t buy him much, but at least it spares Muschamp from a Lane Kiffin-esque fate at 3 a.m. The calls for Muschamp’s head were resounding following last year’s 4-8 campaign, and Florida’s first loss to Kentucky since 1986 could have been too much for athletic director Jeremy Foley to ignore. However, Matt Jones’ one-yard touchdown run in triple overtime spurred the Gators to victory. So, how long will Muschamp’s second life last? He’ll need to survive a trip to Alabama next week.
2. Jeff Driskel: Clutch Quarterback?
Muschamp ought to thank Driskel for saving the Gators with his play in the first overtime. After Kentucky running back Stanley Williams miraculously changed directions en route to a 25-yard touchdown, Florida's hopes seemed slim. That feeling was especially strong when Kelvin Taylor was tackled for a four-yard loss on third down, leaving the offense facing fourth-and-seven. However, with the game hanging in the balance, Driskel floated a perfect pass to wide receiver Demarcus Robinson for a nine-yard score. Whether Driskel got the snap off before the play clock expired was a subject of controversy, but Driskel's precision under pressure weas undeniable.
3. Kentucky showed signs of progress
It was heartbreaking for Kentucky to narrowly miss out on a road victory, but the Wildcats had plenty of positives in this game. Quarterback Patrick Towles showed tremendous poise, most notably when Kentucky faced third-and-16 from its own one-yard line in the fourth quarter. The 6-foot-5, 238-pound sophomore delivered a 22-yard strike to Garrett Johnson to move the chains. The Wildcats’ rebuild still requires work, but competing in a hostile SEC environment and nearly pulling out a win is certainly a step in the right direction.