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In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week The Silver Lining will take on a "news and notes" format to keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Losing last year in Orlando, FL at the Citrus Sports Shootout in an upset to Central Florida, Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan is undoubtedly looking for the Gators to remain on the right track this time around against Stetson. There is also a bit of extra motivation for Donovan on Monday as the game provides him with the opportunity to notch his 400th victory as a head coach. Should UF win, he will be the 37th active coach to reach 400 wins. Donovan is 364-148 (.711) at Florida and 399-168 (.704) including his two years at Marshall.
Intent on proving that he is everything his fans make him out to be, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow engineered another come-from-behind victory by orchestrating a game-tying field goal drive in the fourth quarter and a game-winning field goal drive late in overtime. Tebow finished Sunday's game 9/18 for 143 yards and a touchdown (and a QB rating of 95.4) while also carrying the ball 22 times for 67 yards. He started the game 1/5 but finished 8/13 including a number of deep passes and tight spirals that showed a marked improvement from his passing the last few weeks. Tebow got good protection from his offensive line and benefited by a great rushing day by Willis McGahee, who averaged 5.1 yards per carry on 23 touches. Nevertheless, Tebow is now 5-1 in 2011 including three come-from-behind wins. He has an 8-to-1 TD-INT ratio and has also run the ball in twice.
Now at 6-6 following an embarrassing loss to in-state rival Florida State, Florida indeed looks poised for an appearance in the Gator Bowl set for Jan. 2, 2012 in Jacksonville, FL. To the dismay of some Gators fans, UF's likely opponent is none other than Ohio State, the team set to hire former Florida head coach Urban Meyer. Expectations are - if the match-up is indeed UF-OSU and Meyer's hiring is made official - that Meyer will not coach Ohio State in the bowl game. Regardless of the specifications, the bowl game, opponent and potentially explosive situation are obviously not at all what Gators fans had hoped for heading into the 2011 season.
Invited to the NCAA Tournament for the 21st consecutive season, Florida volleyball (24-5) is scheduled to face Missouri in first-round action on Dec. 2 in Cedar Falls, IA. The Gators enter the event on a seven-match winning streak including five sweeps (three in a row to end the regular season). Florida is unseeded in the tournament bracket and has a long way to go in order to contend for a title, though they have been given the opportunity after putting together another successful season.
Lever a target of affection from Gators fans, former Florida head coach Ron Zook also became a pariah with the Illinois Illini this season. Zook was fired Sunday following Illinois' sixth-straight loss to end the year; the Illini began the 2011 season 6-0 with Zook looking poised to return the team to heights it last reached in 2007-08. During his tenure at Illinois, Zook had a 34-51 record and led the Illini to a sub-.500 record in five of his seven seasons at the helm. Illinois will pay him $2.6 million to buy out the remainder of his contract.
Gators women's basketball (5-1) continued its hot start to the 2011-12 season with a pair of victories this weekend while taking part in the Courtyard Laguardia Turkey Classic in Brooklyn, NY. Florida defeated La Salle 85-74 and Charlotte 82-73on consecutive days behind career-high 28-point efforts from senior guards Jordan Jones and Lanita Bartley in the respective contests. Junior forward Jennifer George combined for 27 points and 24 rebounds in the two games and was a big part of UF's success over the weekend. The Gators will face Belmont at home on Tuesday before beginning a three-game road trip.