Florida used a combination of clutch special teams play and stingy defense to defeat Ohio State 24-17 in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl.

The Gators (7-6, 3-5 SEC) avoided their first losing season since 1979 while handing the Buckeyes (6-7, 3-5 Big Ten) their first sub-.500 campaign since 1897.

Florida's first score of the game came on a touchdown pass from John Brantley to Deonte Thompson that may not have been a catch at all upon further review.

However, Caleb Sturgis nailed the extra point kick before Ohio State interim head coach Luke Fickell had the chance to challenge the call on the field.

The Gators' next touchdown happened on a 99-yard kickoff return by Andre Debose in the second quarter, giving UF a 14-7 lead over the Buckeyes.

Then, leading 14-10 in the third quarter, Chris Rainey blocked an Ohio State punt that was scooped up by Graham Stewart for a 14-yard touchdown run to put the game on ice.

Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes made a late run, scoring on a touchdown pass to Jordan Hall with 57 seconds left to play, but Florida recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.

Photo by Scott Halleran, Getty Images