MIAMI (Ticker) -- Florida coach Steve Spurrier followed through on his promise to bench Rex Grossman for a curfew violation. He kept the Heisman Trophy runner-up on the bench for the first six series. It hardly mattered.
Grossman and fifth-ranked Florida barely missed a beat, rolling to a 56-23 victory over No. 6 Maryland in the Orange Bowl.
The sophomore shook off the benching to throw touchdown passes on his first two series as the Gators (10-2) broke open a close game in the final three minutes of the first half.
Maryland was defenseless against Grossman, who led Florida to touchdowns on six straight possessions before the Gators finally punted for the first time in the second half with just over four minutes left.
"I didn't know when or if I would get in the game," Grossman said. "I was pacing up and down the sidelines. I wanted to make the most of my opportunities."
Overall, Grossman completed 20-of-28 passes for 248 yards and an Orange Bowl record-tying four touchdowns in just under 2 1/2 quarters.
The 79 combined points set an Orange Bowl mark. Florida amassed 659 total yards and 456 yards through the air, also Orange Bowl records.
Ranked first in the preseason, Florida will finish in the top five for the first time since 1998. However, losses to Auburn and Tennessee kept the Gators out of the Southeastern Conference championship game -- and a chance at the national title.
"We're good enough to play in a championship game," Grossman said. "I'm disappointed we didn't, but we won the Orange Bowl."
Brock Berlin, who reportedly is considering transferring to Miami, started for Grossman and was 11-of-19 for 196 yards.
"Rex gave us a nice lift," Spurrier said. "Brock was struggling. Rex was sharp -- his best game. Most of the team played their best game of the year, too."
Berlin directed two scoring drives in his first start of the season. But he threw two interceptions and Florida only led, 14-10, when Grossman replaced him with six minutes remaining in the first half.
"I made a few bad throws," Berlin said. "I wish I could take them back. I started off good, but a few bad throws cost me. I wish it could have gone better, but it didn't. I'll learn from it."
Grossman tossed a 15-yard TD pass to Taylor Jacobs with 2:18 left. Florida forced a punt, and Grossman struck again, finding Jabar Gaffney in the back of the end zone for a four-yard TD with three seconds remaining that gave the Gators a 28-10 lead.
With Maryland keying on receivers Reche Caldwell and Gaffney, the contest turned into a coming-out party for Jacobs, who caught 10 passes for 170 yards and was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
"If somebody had told me yesterday, I was going to play this well, I would say no way," Jacobs said. "I never thought I'd be in this situation. I could never imagine being the MVP. I could tell early on. After a few deep catches, I felt they stayed away from me. A lot of balls came my way tonight."
Maryland was one of the best stories in college football this season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title in its first season under alumnus Ralph Friedgen.
The Terrapins reached 10 wins for the first time since 1976 but faced no team as explosive as the Gators and received a dose of reality. Berlin and Grossman combined for more than 300 yards passing in the first half alone.
Friedgen, whose team led the ACC in defense, believed the game turned when Grossman entered.
"They stopped going for the long ball," he said. "They dumped it to the backs and ran crossing routes. That's Spurrier. He's done a good job with that. We had position, but their speed was just better than ours."
Although thrilled to be playing in a major bowl, Maryland found little joy in the "Sunshine State" this season as the Terrapins suffered their only two losses in Florida by a combined 108-54. They suffered a 52-31 loss at Florida State on October 27.
"Tonight wasn't characteristic of our team," Friedgen said. "That's what was so disappointing. Our defense ran out of gas."
Florida even got production out of its running game as Earnest Graham ran for 152 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
"Earnest had a big game," Spurrier said. "He ran through lots of arms and legs. We came out firing and if we're sharp, we can score a lot of points. We were sharp tonight."
"You have mistakes and give up big plays, and you can't do that against Florida," Maryland safety Rod Little said. "We made too many mistakes. They're a great team and it shouldn't take away from what we accomplished this year."
After Berlin's 46-yard TD pass to Jacobs gave Florida a 14-0 lead with 12 seconds left in the first quarter, Maryland quickly answered as Shaun Hill tossed a 64-yard TD pass to Jafar Williams on the final play of the period.
The Terrapins forced three turnovers in the first half but only turned them into three points.
After Williams' TD, Maryland cornerback Dennard Wilson returned an interception 37 yards to the Florida 3, but the Terrapins had to settle for Nick Novak's 20-yard field goal with 12:02 left in the first period.
Florida's Earnest Graham fumbled at the Maryland 24 on the next drive. The Terrapins drove to Florida's 28, but Novak missed a 46-yard field goal with 6:03 left.
Spurrier decided he had seen enough of Berlin and went to Grossman, who picked apart the Maryland secondary.
Florida tacked on three scores in the third quarter. After Graham and Robert Gillespie scored on TD runs of six and 11 yards, respectively, the Gators showed no mercy. Grossman and Gaffney combined for a 33-yard TD pass that made it 49-10 with 2:52 left.
"We kind of bumbled around our last game in the swamp," said Spurrier, referring to the loss to Tennessee. "We didn't win much this year. We didn't win our conference, but we did win the Orange Bowl."
Grossman also tossed a 10-yard TD strike to Carlos Perez early in the fourth quarter.
Maryland was making its first bowl appearance since tying Louisiana Tech, 34-34, in the 1990 Independence Bowl.