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Sugar Bowl

Tebow is too much

By Mark Long
Associated Press / January 2, 2010

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NEW ORLEANS - Tim Tebow rose above all the distractions caused by coach Urban Meyer’s uncertain future and capped a storied college career with his finest performance.

It was the best in BCS history, too.

Tebow threw for a career-high 482 yards and three touchdowns, ran for 51 yards and another score, and fifth-ranked Florida overwhelmed No. 4 Cincinnati, 51-24, last night in the Sugar Bowl.

For Tebow and the Gators (13-1), this certainly was The Big Easy.

Florida’s most anticipated season ever ended in New Orleans instead of Pasadena, Calif. It came against Cincinnati (13-1) instead of Texas. It was about redemption instead of perfection.

None of that mattered in the Louisiana Superdome.

Tebow wouldn’t let it.

“This has been the best four years of life,’’ Tebow said. “We wanted to end it on a good note.’’

He completed his first 12 passes, led the Gators to scores on their first five possessions, and finished with 533 total yards - more than anyone in Bowl Championship Series history. He passed former Texas star Vince Young’s record of 467 yards, set against Southern California in the 2005 Rose Bowl.

The Bearcats lost their bid for a perfect season and surely will spend the next year listening to questions about whether they belong in the big games against the biggest boys. The offense suffered without the play-calling of former coach Brian Kelly, who left in early December to take the Notre Dame job, leaving behind a lame-duck staff and plenty of angry players.

Tebow and his teammates had hoped to repeat as national champions, but a 32-13 loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference title game knocked them out of the title picture. The Gators spent the last four weeks regrouping.

Things got worse when Meyer announced his resignation last Saturday, three weeks after being rushed to the hospital because of chest pain. Meyer changed his mind the following day, and instead said he would take an indefinite leave of absence.

No one knows how long he will be away or whether he will return at all.

“I plan on being the coach of the Gators,’’ Meyer said.

Tebow, a bulky lefthander, had all kinds of time to pass and picked apart Cincinnati’s sketchy defense. He nearly had a career game in the first half alone, completing 20 of 23 passes for 320 yards and three touchdowns.

Tebow finished 31 of 35. Riley Cooper had seven catches for 181 yards, including an 80-yard TD.