JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With the 24-17 victory over Ohio State before 61,312 in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl, Florida established a school record with its fourth-straight bowl wins.
The Gators (7-6) had previously defeated Oklahoma in the 2009 BCS Championship Game, 24-14, stopped Cincinnati in the 2010 Allstate Sugar Bowl, 51-24, and knocked off Penn State in the 2011 Outback Bowl, 37-24.
Ohio State (6-7) dropped four straight to finish below .500 for the first time since 1988, and lost seven games for the first time since 1897.
Sophomore Andre Debose was named the bowl MVP after he posted a 99-yard KO return for a touchdown, 128 total KO return yards and one catch for nine yards.
Gators’ QB John Brantley connected with senior Deonte Thompson on a 17-yard grab to put the Gators up 7-0 in the first quarter for Thompson’s first TD of the season.
Freshman linebacker Graham Stewart recorded his first career points when he recovered a blocked punt and returned the ball 14 yards to put the Gators up 21-10 in the third quarter. It is the first blocked punt to be returned for a TD in the Gator Bowl since Dec. 29, 1991, when Russell Jones of Oklahoma returned a block punt four yards for a TD vs. Virginia.
With Caleb Sturgis’ 17-yard field goal, which put the Gators up 24-10, UF scored four different ways: receiving TD, KO return, blocked punt return and FG.
UF junior linebacker Jon Bostic led the team with seven solo tackles, one assist and four tackles for a loss of 15 yards. He finishes the season leading the team in tackles with 94. With six sacks on the day, the Gators set a season-high mark.
Florida limited the Buckeyes to 2-of-10 on third-down conversions. With the bowl performance, Florida has held its foes to a combined 48-for-176 (.273) on third-down conversions, second in the nation – the best national ranking in school history.
Ohio State tied the game at 7 on QB Braxton Miller's 5-yard pass to DeVier Posey in the second quarter. Miller completed 18 of 23 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. He completed an 11-yard TD pass to Jordan Hall with less than a minute remaining. OSU’s Drew Basil kicked a 47-yard field goal.
With the victory, the Gators have now had 24 consecutive winning seasons, the longest active streak in the country. Additionally, 2011 marks Florida’s FBS-leading 32nd straight season with a winning percentage of .500 or higher.