NEW ORLEANS — Tim Tebow rose above all the distractions caused by coach Urban Meyer's uncertain future and capped a storied college career with his finest performance.

It was the best in BCS history, too.

Tebow threw for a career-high 482 yards and three touchdowns, ran for 51 yards and another score, and fifth-ranked Florida overwhelmed No. 4 Cincinnati 51-24 Friday night in the Sugar Bowl.

For Tebow and the Gators (13-1), this certainly was The Big Easy.

Florida's most anticipated season ever ended in New Orleans instead of Pasadena. It came against Cincinnati (13-1) instead of Texas. It was about redemption instead of perfection.

None of that mattered in the Louisiana Superdome.

Tebow wouldn't let it.

"This has been the best four years of life," Tebow said. "We wanted to end it on a good note."

He completed his first 12 passes, led the Gators to scores on their first five possessions and finished with 533 yards — more than anyone in Bowl Championship Series history. He passed former Texas star Vince Young's record of 467 yards set against USC in the 2005 Rose Bowl.

The Bearcats lost their bid for a perfect season and surely will spend the next year listening to questions about whether they belong in the big games against the biggest boys.

Florida, meanwhile, became the first school in the Football Bowl Subdivision to win 13 games in consecutive seasons.

Meyer didn't look like his fiery self against his alma mater. Then again, Tebow & Co. made this a stress-free game for every Gator.

Cincinnati stacked the line of scrimmage, essentially forcing Tebow to beat them through the air. That worked for the Crimson Tide. It backfired for the Bearcats.

The bulky left-hander had all kinds of time to pass and picked apart Cincinnati's sketchy defense. He nearly had a career game in the first half alone. He completed 20 of 23 passes for 320 yards and three touchdowns, 18 yards shy of his previous career high.

He completed a deep ball into roommate Riley Cooper's hands for an 80-yard touchdown, the longest completion of Tebow's career.

Tebow completed 31 of 35 passes. Cooper had seven catches for 181 yards. Hernandez added nine receptions for 111 yards.

Florida clearly had something to prove after getting thumped in Atlanta, and Cincinnati was on the receiving end. The Bearcats were playing in their second straight BCS game, but this one was even more lopsided than last year's 20-7 loss to Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Quarterback Tony Pike got much of the blame for that one after throwing four interceptions.

Former coach Brian Kelly could get charged with this one.

Kelly bailed on the Bearcats in early December, leaving behind a lame-duck staff and plenty of angry players. The players spent a few days spewing over Kelly's decision. The coaches, meanwhile, spent the last three weeks searching for jobs and trying to keep the team focused despite a huge distraction.

Without Kelly, who called plays all season, the offense suffered.