Harvin, Florida await BCS news after winning SEC title gameDec 3, 2006 - 2:51 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Electrifying true freshman Percy Harvin and fourth-ranked Florida may have earned a shot to test the best team in the land for a national title.
Harvin scored twice, including a long TD run early in the fourth quarter, as the Gators won a wild Southeastern Conference championship game with a 38-28 triumph over No. 8 Arkansas.
The Gators (12-1) will find out Sunday if they will oppose No. 1 Ohio State in the BCS title game on January 8 in Glendale, Arizona.
Second-ranked Southern California blew a golden shot at reaching the game with a 13-9 setback to UCLA, while third-ranked Michigan completed its regular season with a 42-39 road loss to the Buckeyes on November 18.
"Florida belongs," second-year Gators coach Urban Meyer said. "The other team (Michigan) had a shot. We went 12-1, and I think the country wants to see the Southeast Conference champion against a Big Ten champion. I think that's what it's all about.
"If there's a lot of people making a lot of decisions out there, this is a big one. We're going to tell a group of young men that just went 12-1 in a most difficult schedule against six ranked opponents that they don't have a chance to go play for a national championship? I'm going to need help with that one. I have great confidence that the University of Florida is going to get that opportunity. I really do."
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt agreed that the Gators deserve a title shot.
"I'm always for our conference," Nutt said. "You know, it's the toughest conference in America. If we were sitting on the other sideline, we'd be saying absolutely (we should go). I wish them all the best and hope they have an opportunity to go."
The seesaw contest saw Florida score the first 17 points and Arkansas the next 21. Momentum shifted again late in the third quarter when Razorbacks return man Reggie Fish inexplicably fielded a punt over his shoulder inside the 5.
Fish lost the ball in the end zone and Wondy Pierre-Louis recovered for a touchdown, giving Florida a 24-21 lead.
"I was going to go for it there (on 4th-and-1)," Meyer said. "And the comment over the headset, (co-defensive coordinator) Greg Mattison is actually the one, I flipped over on defense and he kept saying, 'It's early, a lot of football left. Let's pin them in there and play some great defense,' which most of the time we have.
"Obviously, I listened to my assistant coach and we punted down there and a good thing happened. Great punt."
In the first minute of the fourth quarter, Harvin - named the game's MVP - made a sharp cut to his left to elude a tackler and burst up the middle for a 67-yard score, opening a 31-21 advantage.
"Coming into this game, we were challenged to beat man-to-man coverage," Harvin said. "I did the easy part. It was good blocking because the five up front, so we knew once I made my man miss there, there wasn't anybody in the secondary."
Harvin, who was taken off the field on a stretcher last week at Florida State after getting kneed in the head, had six rushes for 106 yards and five catches for 62 yards and another score.
The Razorbacks pulled within three points with 12:29 remaining when quarterback Casey Dick threw a lateral to his left to Cedric Washington and the receiver tossed a 29-yard touchdown across the field to Felix Jones.
But the Gators used some trickery over their own to restore a double-digit cushion.
True freshman quarterback Tim Tebow, who normally runs the ball, came in for 1st-and-goal at the 5 and handed to Andre Caldwell on a reverse. Sprinting to his right, the receiver threw the ball to Tate Casey for a touchdown and a 38-28 lead with 9:04 to go.
Darren McFadden and Dick each threw an interception in the next six minutes for the SEC West champion Razorbacks (10-3), who also lost to the Gators in the 1995 conference title game.
Arkansas originally trailed, 17-0, before Dick tossed a 48-yard touchdown to Marcus Monk with 1:50 remaining in the first half.
"We knew coming in the game wasn't going to be given to us," Monk said. "I felt we came in the second half and played hard."
The Razorbacks continued their momentum after the break, with linebacker Weston Dacus intercepting Chris Leak at the Florida 32 just 36 seconds into the third quarter. Operating out of a shotgun formation, McFadden tossed a two-yard touchdown to fellow running back Jones to pull Arkansas within 17-14.
With 8:33 left in the period, defensive end Antwain Robinson stepped in front of a shovel pass from Leak to Harvin and ran 40 yards for a score, giving the Razorbacks a stunning 21-17 lead.
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