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September 29, 2007

Byrum's kick lifts Tigers over No. 4 Florida

On a day filled with upsets, Auburn turned in one of the biggest.

Freshman Wes Byrum kicked a 43-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Tigers to a 20-17 victory over fourth-ranked Florida on Saturday night.

The loss snapped an 11-game winning streak for the defending national champions and gave the Gators their first home loss under coach Urban Meyer. They had won 18 in a row, 17 straight since Meyer took over in 2005.

It also might have jeopardized Florida's chances of repeating. Then again, with all the other upsets Saturday, the Gators surely won't slip too far out of the picture.

Florida (4-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) could take a big step back next week at No. 2 LSU. But if the Gators play like they did Saturday, they could be in for another long day.

Auburn (3-2, 1-1) played sound defense, prevented Tim Tebow & Co. from making many big plays and took advantage of several mistakes to build a 14-0 lead at halftime.

The Tigers held on from there.

Byrum attempted the winning kick, just as Meyer called timeout. The kick was true, but Byrum had to do it again.

He did, and it was right down the middle.

Auburn used the final 4 minutes to set up the winning field goal. Ben Tate ran for 18 yards on the drive and Brandon Cox found Rod Smith twice for 16 yards.

Byrum did the rest.

The Tigers rushed the field to celebrate and performed the ``Gator Chomp'' everywhere in front of 90,685 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

The Gators were stunned - much like No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 7 Texas, No. 10 Rutgers and No. 13 Clemson were after they were handed their first losses Saturday.

Tate finished with 65 yards for Auburn. Mario Fannin added 62, and Brandon Cox was 17-of-26 passing for 227 yards. Smith caught nine passes for 102 yards.

The defense deserves even more credit for keeping Florida's high-powered offense in check. The Tigers held Florida to 312 yards, well below its average. They also did it without a full game from defensive end Quentin Groves, who injured his right foot and left the field on crutches.


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