Lamical Perine shook a tackle.
He bounced the run to the right sideline and had only a safety in between him and an 88-yard touchdown run against the team that told him he wasn’t fast enough to play there. He stutter-stepped and then shrugged off the Auburn safety and dialed the house call.
That score put the Gators up 24-13 against the Auburn Tigers on Oct. 5. That would be the final score of the ball game, and UF emerged victorious in one of the loudest, craziest games to ever be played at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Undeniably, it’s my No. 1 win of the season for coach Dan Mullen and the Gators. It was the hottest ticket in The Swamp since Tim Tebow’s senior day. It was a win over a then-top-10 opponent and it was a statement from Mullen that he and his program were here to stay.
Quarterback Kyle Trask had 234 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. It was a solid day for Trask, yes, but the critical quarterback story was what happened on the other side of the football.
Freshman Auburn quarterback Bo Nix struggled mightily in the Swamp. It was arguably his worst game of the entire season. He only threw for 145 yards, and more importantly, had only one touchdown compared to three interceptions.
Florida's defensive coordinator Todd Grantham blitzed Nix constantly. And the speed of Florida’s defense kept him from scrambling out of it. That resulted in a struggling Nix and an offense seemingly stuck in quicksand all day. Outside of Trask getting strip-sacked a few times, the Gators dominated every aspect of this game. It never really felt that Auburn was going to come back.
This was the game of the season for anyone involved with Florida football’s perspective. For the players, it was the main win that proved the Gators belonged in the discussion of top-level teams in college football. For the coaches, it proved that they knew what they were talking about.
For fans, if you were still not sure about Mullen and what he brings to Gainesville, it was proven on this day. If you were at the game, you had the fan experience of a lifetime. For media, we got to cover an incredibly excited team for an incredibly excited fan base.
So, in the spirit of Christmas, the Auburn win was your favorite gift. You look back on that Christmas and always remember that gift. You use it or wear it all the time and you’re genuinely really happy that someone got it for you. You can’t think about it without it bringing a smile to your face.