Gators' toughness no longer in question

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- People are wrong if they believe the turning point in Florida's 37-26 victory over Florida State was Antonio Morrison's jarring hit that caused FSU quarterback EJ Manuel to fumble.

Or Mike Gillislee's 37-yard touchdown run on the next play, a score that put the Gators ahead 23-20 four minutes into the fourth quarter.

Those were important moments, for sure. But Saturday's game at Doak Campbell Stadium was really won nearly a year ago: Nov. 26, 2011. That's when UF coach Will Muschamp stood in the locker room following a 21-7 loss to Florida State in Gainesville and called his team soft.

That's the worst insult football players can hear. It turned out to be the best motivation they could get.

"That was a turning point for our football program when he said that," DT Omar Hunter said. "I'm glad he said it. I'm glad guys really took it to heart and got better from it."

UF's players didn't just take it to heart. They immersed themselves in it. And 363 days later, it's apparent it no longer applies.

The fourth-ranked Gators (11-1) aren't soft now. Not after what they did to the 10th-ranked Noles in front of 83,429. Not after the way they did it. Not after scoring 24 points in the third quarter to wipe out a seven-point deficit because the defense uncharacteristically allowed 17 points in the third quarter. Not after dominating the nation's No. 1 rushing defense by running for 244 yards. Not after forcing five turnovers.

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