No. 19 Florida 63, Florida A&M 3
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP)—Florida A&M owned The Swamp—during halftime, while its world-famous band was on the field. The rest of the time, it was Florida and DeShawn Wynn doing all the jamming.
Wynn tied a school record with four touchdowns Saturday night to help the 19th-ranked Gators to a 63-3 victory in their last tuneup before the Southeastern Conference opener next week against Tennessee.
Ingle Martin and Chris Leak each threw for touchdowns, but the passing game wasn’t the highlight for Florida (2-1).
The Gators ran for 309 yards, their most since 1997. Wynn, a redshirt freshman, led Florida with 95 yards and joined Jesse Palmer, Fred Taylor and four others with the single-game TD record.
“He’s as good as they get,” Martin said of Wynn. “It’s a good place to be, at Florida, where you play with guys that talented.”
The Gators built a 35-3 lead at halftime and, unlike last week against No. 2 Miami, there was no way they were going to blow it against the Division I-AA Rattlers (1-2).
Of course, that’s not to say FAMU walked away empty-handed. For making the trip from Tallahassee, the Rattlers earned $415,000 from Florida—money that will certainly help when they move to Division I-A next season.
One thing the school won’t need to do is upgrade its band, “The Marching 100,” known far and wide as one of the best in the country.
Dressed in bright orange and green, the band serenaded the Gators at the opening kick with a version of The O’Jay’s “Backstabbers “—“They’re smilin’ in your face, all the time they want to take your place”—and kept the music coming during timeouts. At halftime, they took the act to the field, spelling out the words “Get Low!” and marching back to the stands to the theme from “Good Times,” the classic 1970s sitcom starring Jimmie Walker.
Besides Wynn’s fine outing, the band was the highlight of an otherwise predictable evening. Most in the crowd of 90,087 stayed to watch, and gave a standing ovation when it was over.
“I didn’t get to hear them,” coach Ron Zook said. “But I heard everyone cheering for them when they went out there.”
Back to the game, it was hard to tell exactly what the lopsided win meant for the Gators, who play the first of eight straight SEC games beginning next week. A better gauge was last week’s 38-33 loss to Miami where, despite a blown 23-point lead, Florida showed it could compete with the best in the country.
Zook’s team did little to debunk that notion. In fact, the Gators got better on special teams, where they had struggled this year. Florida blocked a field goal and a punt and forced A&M punter Damon Miller to scramble for a 2-yard loss. The Gators also covered kickoffs and punts well and didn’t have any big problems with their return game.
“I feel very, very good about where we’re at with our kicking game,” Zook said.
The Rattlers’ brief hopes came on the first play from scrimmage, when Levy Brown made his 12th career interception and returned it to the Florida 28. It was one of three early A&M trips inside the Gators 30; they produced three field goal attempts and only three points.
Led by Rashard Pompey’s 78 yards rushing, A&M’s overmatched “Gulf Coast Offense” was held to 268 yards. Despite the 60-point loss, the Rattlers actually claimed to have taken some positives from the game—most notably, that they kept the score reasonable for about 1 1/2 quarters.
“We showed that Florida A&M has talent, but Florida just had too much,” Brown said. “I’m sure the rest of the teams on our schedule took notice.”
Meanwhile, the Gators may have found a star in Wynn, who ran for three touchdowns and caught another. The Cincinnati native—voted runner-up to Maurice Clarett as Ohio’s prep player of the year—has five touchdowns this year, including a 65-yard run last week against Miami. It has been quite a turnaround from the opening week, when he fumbled twice in his college debut.
“I saw where he was listed as one of our `Who’s Not Hot’ players after the opener and I just laughed,” Florida linebacker Channing Crowder said. “He’s great. If you can tackle DeShawn Wynn, you can tackle anyone in the country.”
Also playing well was tight end Ben Troupe, who had three catches for 41 yards, including and 7-yard TD from Leak.
Counting their 65-3 victory over San Jose State in the opener, the Gators have yet to allow a touchdown at home this season.