Special teams cost Bowling Green at No. 23 Florida
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Bowling Green had several chances to pull off an upset of No. 23 Florida.
Special teams let the Falcons down.
Fifth-year senior Stephen Stein missed field-goal attempts of 31 and 29 yards, and punter Brian Schmiedebusch had a 10-yard punt that led to Florida's go-ahead points in a 27-14 victory Saturday.
Those mistakes were costly for a four-touchdown underdog playing on the road.
"We didn't consider ourselves underdogs," linebacker Dwayne Woods said. "We felt like we were better than Florida. The way we prepared for this and what we had coming back, we felt we were the better team. Today, it was too many mistakes, too many big plays. You can't have that if you expect to beat a Top-25 team."
Mike Gillislee had a career-high 148 yards rushing and two touchdowns for Florida, helping the Gators win their 23rd consecutive opener. The streak is the second longest in the nation behind Nebraska (27).
"We thought we were going to come out and just put up 40 points," said Gillislee, who carried 24 times. "That wasn't the case. They came to play, but we finished."
The Gators can thank Gillislee, Frankie Hammond and Bowling Green's special teams for the latest season-opening win.
A senior who spent the last three years playing behind Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, Gillislee scored on runs of 15 and 38 yards in the second quarter. Hammond turned a short pass into a 50-yard score early in the fourth. Bowling Green could have taken the lead in the second half, but Stein missed his second field goal.
"We've struggled with field goals for three years," said Falcons coach Dave Clawson, who planned to switch kickers if his team got another shot. "You miss two short ones like that, we're going to give the other kid a shot. You've got to come out of those drives with points. We had a chance to be down just four points at the half. That was big."
Florida's quarterback rotation got most of the attention on a sweltering day in Gainesville.
The Gators alternated sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel in what was dubbed a final chance to earn the starting job. Driskel seemingly prevailed, although Muschamp said the competition remains open.
Brissett started the game, and then went to the bench on the second play. Driskel also started — lining up at receiver for the first snap — and played the first quarter. Brissett took over in the second, but Florida coach Muschamp went back to Driskel after halftime.