The Florida Gators have played the Michigan Wolverines a total of four times. Of all the great players to play in the orange and blue, from Heisman winners, to first round draft selections, it’s Feleipe Franks who becomes the first Gator quarterback to best the Wolverines.
It seems so long ago from the announcement on November 4th that Kyle Trask would be the new starter, after Franks gets benched during the Missouri game after playing his worst game of the season following his two-turnover performance against Georgia that ultimately lost the game.
After getting benched coming off of those two loses, the narrative pointed straight for Franks to transfer. A few days after losing his job, Trask breaks his foot in practice giving to the keys back to Franks.
Fast forward to the South Carolina game down 14-7, Franks would run in a touchdown, as a celebration he holds his finger to his mouth, hushing his own crowd as they celebrate, knowing they were all hoping he would lose his job just the week before.
Next to Jeff Driskel, Feleipe has been one the most scrutinized quarterbacks in Gator recent history, and it’s because of the position tradition at the University, and any player from here on out will feel it if they want to be the signal caller in Gainesville, Florida.
In that same South Carolina game down 31-14, Feleipe led a 35-31 come back, as he was responsible for three total touchdowns and no turnovers.
In that final three game stretch, Franks totaled 10 touchdowns with zero turnovers that helped the Gators finish the season 9-3 heading to a New Year’s Six Bowl against Michigan. The same Michigan team that led to Feliepe getting benched in the second quarter.
That game led to Dan Mullens path back to Gainesville, and Franks have completely reaped the benefits of the coaching change. During his redshirt freshman year franks looked lost most of season. He would only throw for 1,438 yards with just 9 touchdowns to 8 interceptions in an offense that he just seemed to be a square peg in.
Entering the Chic Fila Peach Bowl, Franks threw for 2236 yards, and was responsible for 30 total touchdowns, to just 6 interceptions making him look like a completely new quarterback in just year one of the Mullen era.
Of course, those numbers aren’t award worthy but it showed how much talent Franks actually has with the right type of coaching. Heading into the bowl game, many headlines were of Michigan’s talented Shea Patterson staying school over the NFL, or of how Michigan would be missing starters on both sides due to the NFL, or how many analysts felt the Wolverines would play well after getting demolished by Ohio State over a month ago.
By the end of the game Franks would make the storylines about him.
Franks would finish with 247 total yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 turnovers that led the Florida Gators to a 41-15 one sided affair against the Wolverines, the school’s first victory over Michigan.
Many fans can still probably vividly remember the beat down the 07 team took from the Wolverines after Tim Tebow won the Heisman, in Orlando, FL, as well as the aforementioned game just last season.
It was the confidence in which Feleipe played with that showed how much he had grown over. from throwing the ball out of bounds before he would take a costly sack, or just his over pose after taking a sack and moving on to the next play, which is a trait he didn’t show his first year as a starter.
Getting this win gets the monkey off the back Florida in rivalry between schools as they see each other in many other sports with Michigan winning most of those match-ups. It also gets the monkey off of the back of Feleipe Franks, as many felt he didn’t have what it takes to win a big game after folding in the 4th quarter of the Georgia game.
There is still plenty of growing for Franks to do with his possible remaining two seasons, the jump from year one to year two with Mullen will be the most telling as to how good he can really be. For now, Gator nation should be glad to finally have the respect of the college football world back, as well as having a quarterback that can possibly get the taste of Tim Tebow out of their mouths.