Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Dominant second half powers No. 10 Florida past No. 7 Michigan in Peach Bowl

26 Comments

The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl was supposed to be a bit of a defensive battle between No. 10 Florida (10-3) and No. 7 Michigan (10-3), but the Gators cued up some big offensive plays in crucial situations to break the game wide open in their favor. Florida’s 41-15 victory over Michigan in Atlanta gave new head coach Dan Mullen a 10-win season in Gainesville with a bright future on the horizon in the SEC moving forward.

The reality of the outcome probably sunk in on the Michigan sideline when Jim Harbaugh opted to punt the ball back to Florida from the Michigan 43-yard line with 7:20 to play in the game with Michigan trailing 34-13. The game had already gone off the rails for Michigan. Playing without some key players hurt Michigan’s chances, but the game was there for the taking entering the second half as Florida led just 13-10 at the time.

But the second half started on the wrong foot for the Wolverines. A Shea Patterson interception deep down the field by Chauncey Gardner-Johnson was returned 53 yards to the Michigan 44-yard line, and six plays later the Gators were in the end zone with a Feleipe Franks touchdown pass to Lamical Perine. Michigan went back five yards on the ensuing possession, and Florida put together a 63-yard touchdown drive keyed by a 30-yard run by Jordan Scarlett to put the Gators on the doorstep.

After Michigan responded with a field goal to cut the deficit to 27-13, Florida responded when it looked like the Michigan defense picked up a big stop. On 3rd-and-20 from the Florida 47-yard line, Perine took off running right up the middle of the Michigan defense and dashed 53 yards for a crushing touchdown.

Michigan’s defense may have been short-handed, but one of the best defenses in the nation certainly ended the year on a disappointing note. After giving up 62 points to Ohio State in the regular season finale, the Wolverine defense gave up 34 points (Florida scored a defensive touchdown in the fourth quarter to add to the final score).

For Mullen, this marks his first 10-win season as a head coach since winning 10 games with Mississippi State in 2014. This is just the second 10-win season for Mullen, who improved his bowl record to a career mark of 6-2. He has now coached three straight bowl wins between his time at Mississippi State and now at Florida (Mullen left the Bulldogs prior to their bowl game last season). Harbaugh has now lost three consecutive bowl games and is 1-3 in bowl games at Michigan, 2-4 overall in bowl games. The last head coach at Michigan to lose three straight bowl games was Lloyd Carr, who lost four straight, although three of those bowl games were in the Rose Bowl.

Momentum from a bowl result may be overblown, but it should be easy to feel good about Florida moving on to 2019 based off the result of the Peach Bowl. For Michigan, there are just as many concerns and questions about taking the next step as there were after their regular season loss at Ohio State. This result may not add much more that wasn’t already there to stew on in Ann Arbor.

Florida DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson guarantees 32nd straight win over Kentucky

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
1 Comment

The Florida Gators own the longest active winning streak for an FBS program over another FBS program with a 31-game winning streak against Kentucky. This weekend, the Gators look to make it 32 straight years with a victory over the Wildcats, and defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is confident that will be the result.

“It’s 31, right,” Gardner-Johnson asked reporters, referring to Florida’s winning streak in the series. “It’ll be 32 on Saturday.”

Florida had a close call last season in a 28-27 victory in Lexington, but the majority of the games in the winning streak have been rather lopsided in Florida’s favor. Florida’s 31-game winning streak started against Kentucky in 1987, and the Gators have won 37 of the past 38 meetings. The lone win in that stretch came in 1986 when Kentucky managed to secure a 10-3 victory in Lexington.

If Florida extends the winning streak to 32, it will tie for third-place for the longest winning streak against a single opponent in NCAA history. That mark is owned by Oklahoma with 32 consecutive wins against Kansas State from 1937 through 1968. The longest streak belongs to Notre Dame with 43 straight wins against Navy ranging from 1964 through 2006. Florida is currently tied with Penn State (31 straight wins against Temple, snapped in 2015).

Florida leads the all-time series with Kentucky, 51-17. Florida cruised to a 53-6 victory over Charleston Southern in the Florida coaching debut of Dan Mullen in Week 1. Kentucky struggled against Central Michigan but managed to grab a 35-20 victory.