Florida entered Saturday's game a huge favorite with a lot of questions about the quarterback job.
It came away with a 27-14 win that almost got away, a few answers but a long way to go.
Bowling Green quarterback Matt Schilz had his team close to going ahead only to throw an interception on the first play of the fourth quarter. Add in a couple of missed field goals from 31 and 29 yards and you have a game that the Falcons felt could have ended very differently.
Instead, with the Gators clinging to a three-point lead, cornerback Marcus Roberson — who missed the end of last season with a neck injury — came up with the key interception. He returned the ball 31 yards to the Gators' 47.
Jeff Driskel, battling Jacoby Brissett for the starting quarterback job, then hit Frankie Hammond on a short pass. The senior dodged a defender and sprinted 50 yards for the touchdown. In just seconds, the drama was gone and UF was on its way.
"I saw they were in off coverage, so I just wanted to get him the ball,'' Driskel said. "He was one-on-one, and that was all him.''
It was Driskel's longest pass play in the sophomore's career. Driskel (10 of 16 for 114 yards) and Jacoby Brissett started the game battling for the job. Brissett took the first snap with Driskel at receiver. But after Saturday, it looks like it's Driskel's job to lose. Or does it?
Second-year UF coach Will Muschamp said Bowling Green's defense made it necessary to use Driskel more in roll-outs, rather than allow true pocket passing — which is Brissett's strength.
"We just felt like were going to need some pocket movement,'' Muschamp said.
When asked if it was Driskel's job, he almost immediately noted that was something he will discuss today with offensive coordinator Brent Pease.
"We haven't made any decisions,'' Muschamp said. "I just felt like today's game, the flow of the game was with Jeff.''
And Bowling Green can only wonder what could have been.
"We did some things you can't do to win the game in the fourth quarter,'' Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said.
Clawson said the interception was a pass that should have been caught, not intercepted by Roberson.
"Then we keep the drive alive,'' he said. "But we didn't catch the ball and it got batted in the air and they make a nice return on it, and obviously that was a huge game-changer.''
Driskel's play and Hammond's catch aside, it was Mike Gillislee, who had a career-best 148 yards on 24 carries, who had a lot of Gators thrilled. He scored on touchdown runs of 15 and 38 yards in the first half — matching his total a year ago while playing behind current NFL backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey.
"It just felt great to get the ball in my hands,'' Gillislee said.
"I told Brent we're going to run the football,'' Muschamp said. "We need to establish who we are, you can't talk about it. You have to do it.''
Florida had 42 rushes overall for 220 yards.
It was 14-7 at the break and still a tense three-point game despite Bowling Green kicker Stephen Stein's two misses after three quarters. Then came the Roberson interception, Hammond's sprint to glory and the game was suddenly all but over.
Next Saturday, Florida visits Texas A&M. The Gators realize they have to play much better. But for a start, Muschamp will take it.
"I'm very confident,'' Muschamp said. "I like this football team. I like where we are. I certainly feel a lot better than I did a year ago, I can tell you that.''