Whatever the reason for Urban Meyer’s two timeouts in the game’s final minute, there was one inarguable fact – the Bulldogs had no one to blame for the embarrassment but themselves.
“They were ahead,” Georgia linebacker Rennie Curran said. “They probably thought they had to get us back somehow for last year, so they did what they did. They were ahead and about to win the game. They can do whatever they want to do.”
After Georgia danced around the end zone following its first touchdown in a win against Florida last year, much was made of the potential revenge Meyer hoped to inflict this time around.
A raucous second half that included five touchdown drives that required a combined 5:18 boosted the Gators to a huge lead as the fourth quarter drew to a close, and Meyer decided to use his two remaining timeouts to enjoy the victory.
"(It was) to enjoy the moment, to enjoy the game,” Florida quarterback Tim Tebow said. “We were still playing the game. We didn't do it for anyone else. We were just playing the game."
Meyer said the timeouts weren’t aimed at delaying Georgia’s pain or to provide retribution for last year’s end-zone celebration.
Meyer’s explanation was simple – he was trying to win the game.
That might seem a bit odd considering he was already up 39 points, but Meyer has gained a reputation for squeezing every second out of the clock he can.
In a September game against in-state rival Miami, Meyer left his first-team players on the field until the end of the game, booting a meaningless field goal as time expired despite holding a big lead. Miami coach Randy Shannon complained after the game, suggesting Meyer was showboating.
Georgia head coach Mark Richt had no such complaints.
“The rules say you have three timeouts per half, and they can use as many as they want,” Richt said. “They used their timeouts and they certainly had a right to do that.”
The timeouts came after runs by Emmanuel Moody, Florida’s third-string running back who had tallied a game-high 71 rushing yards, and Meyer said he wanted to give Moody a few more chances to pad his stats.
"Moody was running the ball real well and I wanted to get him a couple more carries,” Meyer said. “He deserved that."
Curran thinks there was a bit more to it than that.
Following last season’s celebration, the Bulldogs expected some payback. Curran said he holds no grudges for the final-minute timeouts. He just wishes the Bulldogs could have done something to stop it.
“We did our thing last year,” Curran said. “I feel like they came into this game feeling like they had something to prove, and they did with those timeouts and with the way they played.”