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Friday, January 9, 2009

National chomps

Tebow leads Gators to BCS title

Florida's Tim Tebow celebrates during the fourth quarter of the BCS Championship NCAA college football game against Oklahoma in Miami, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009. Florida defeated Oklahoma 24-14.

Florida's Tim Tebow celebrates during the fourth quarter of the BCS Championship NCAA college football game against Oklahoma in Miami, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009. Florida defeated Oklahoma 24-14.

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— Tim Tebow gave Florida the jolt it needed to become a national champion.

But all his efforts in a sloppy, choppy BCS championship game likely did little to quiet fans of Utah, Southern California and Texas, all of whom already claimed the top spot.

“I’ll tell you, we’re going to enjoy a big win, we’re going to enjoy the national championship,” coach Urban Meyer said after the Gators beat No. 2 Oklahoma, 24-14, on Thursday night. “Let someone else worry about that. Gators are No. 1.”

The high-scoring shootout between Heisman Trophy winners Sam Bradford and Tebow never materialized.

Tebow, however, shook off a career-high two interceptions to rescue the top-ranked Gators (13-1). He drove them to the clinching score — he took two hard steps toward the line, jumped and zipped a 4-yard touchdown pass to David Nelson with 3:07 left to make it 24-14.

Percy Harvin returned from an ankle injury and dashed for 122 yards on only nine carries for the Gators. His 52-yard gallop set up Jonathan Phillips’ 27-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter for a 17-14 lead.

Tebow added to the title he helped the Gators win in 2006 with a rout of Ohio State and, one season after winning the Heisman, brought home another trophy.

“Tebow, just call him Superman,” Harvin said.

National chomps, indeed!

The Gators finished far ahead of the Utes in the final Associated Press poll today, receiving 48 of 65 first-place votes.

Tebow was picked the game’s most outstanding player, running for 109 yards. His passing wasn’t so precise — 18-for-30 — yet it was his sheer will that kept the Gators going.

“I was already motivated for a national championship game. But you know, there was some trash talking going on, and it just gets me going during the game,” Tebow said.

It was Florida’s third national title overall, and the third straight for a team from the Southeastern Conference, and it was the Sooners’ fifth straight loss in a BCS game. Oklahoma (12-2) set a modern record for scoring with 702 points this season and put up at least 60 points in its last five games, yet never found its rhythm.

“In the end, I’ll be glad to try again next year,” Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. “If that’s the biggest burden I have to bear in my life, I’m a pretty lucky guy.”

Bradford, who beat out Tebow for the Heisman, was a disappointing 26-for-41 with two interceptions. Like Tebow, he’s going to explore his potential for the NFL draft — not exactly the performance he wanted.

“Obviously, they’re a great defense. I think just a couple times we got ourselves in trouble,” Bradford said.

These teams totaled an average of 99 points per game, but wound up with a scoreless first quarter. In the second quarter, Florida’s defense made a pair of goal line stands that left it 7-all at halftime.

By then, college football fans around the country were certainly wondering whether these were indeed the two best teams. And it surely gave steam to the suggestion by President-elect Barack Obama and others that a playoff system is needed.

Cheered on by a flock of rooters who made the five-hour drive from The Swamp in Gainesville, the Gators became the second team in the 11-year history of the BCS to win two titles.

Nicknamed “Big Game Bob” for his early success, Stoops lost for the third time with a national championship on the line. This was the first time Florida and Oklahoma played — Stoops was the Gators’ defensive coordinator when Steve Spurrier led them to the 1996 title.

Tebow struggled throughout the first half, his lone highlight a 20-yard touchdown pass to Louis Murphy for a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter. Bradford came right back with a swift 65-yard drive, capped by his 6-yard TD toss to Jermaine Gresham.

Florida’s defense, rather than Tebow, Harvin and its speedsters on the other side of the ball, kept the Gators close.

Poised to break the tie midway through the second quarter, Oklahoma owned a first-and-goal at the 9. Chris Brown carried four straight times and the Gators stood up the 1,100-yard rusher, twice stuffing him from the 1.

Rarely turned back in the red zone this season, the Sooners let it happen to them again in the final minute before halftime.

There were 10 seconds left and Oklahoma was out of timeouts when Bradford dropped back from the 6. He tried to hit Manuel Johnson at the goal line, but the pass deflected off him and the Gators ran a perfect tip drill, with three defenders touching the ball before Major Wright had the interception.

The interceptions were bad picks, too — Tebow telegraphed a long, cross-field throw that Nic Harris easily grabbed and later made a short flip over the middle right to Gerald McCoy.

Were the Gators out of whack? Hard to tell, though offensive coordinator Dan Mullen certainly had a lot to think about. Hired recently by Mississippi State, he becomes the Bulldogs’ full-time head coach Friday.

Both teams seemed to have trouble with the game officials. The crew kept interrupting play for various reasons, and the result was a sloppy, scoreless first quarter.

Stoops and Meyer took turns hollering at ACC referee Ron Cherry, as if to tell him “Let ’em play!”

Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes was equally vocal. A few days after calling Big 12 defenses “a joke,” he got into a couple of early shouting and shoving skirmishes with the Sooners. It was even a bit edgy before the game — warming up in the end zone, an Oklahoma kicker rolled his eyes when two Gators leaned against the goal post right behind him.

Comments

Lance Hobson 8 years, 11 months ago

OU blows it for the Big 12 (again), as expected. After TT got whipped by Ole Miss I had a feeling this would happen. Maybe the SEC is just a lot better than the Big 12. Regardless, the conference never should have let OU get into this game instead of Texas.

Robert Brock 8 years, 11 months ago

The Big 12 is soft. That would include Texas.

nebraska_jayhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

No surprise this happened at all. I told everyone who asked me how I thought the game would go that OU would lose because they have not faced a defense like Florida all year. They just told me OU would run the score up. The thing I did not think was that the score would be so low. I thought it would be in the 30's or 40's, but the fact that UF doubled up OU was no surprise at all.

CheneyHawk 8 years, 11 months ago

Okay - let's talk halftime. What's with Oklahoma and Texas bands playing bad '70's rock tunes that don't translate to college marching band material? Stairway to Heaven for Texas and Pinball Wizard for OU? That was sadly embarrassing for the Big XII - they both sound like bad kazoo/karoke. Way to showcase the talent....

kansas25 8 years, 11 months ago

I know that a win's a win and a loss is a loss. But Oklahoma had this one. If they just score even once out of the two times they got stopped at the goal line, this is a different outcome. Either way, Mr. Stoops hasn't been able to get it done in the last 5 or 6 years. And the fact that Texas still thinks they should be number one after barely beating an Ohio State team that got hammered by USC is funny. I think OU and Tech's loss shows that maybe the Big 12 should think about some defense. Final thought, Utah deserves the ring. Can't argue with 13-0 and a trouncing of Alabama...

kranny 8 years, 11 months ago

I agree with kansas25. OU had first and goal inside the 10 twice and pi$$ed down their legs. Poor play calling and field awareness. Bradford I thought played well. His two INTs were not his fault, they should have been catches. I thought the OU receivers and O-line were soft. Two tackles for a loss inside the two yard line.

d_prowess 8 years, 11 months ago

Did anyone find it annoying how much the announcers gushed about Tebow and Florida in general? I mean they had a whole month to prepare for this game, but from what I heard, it seems like they only met with and researched the Florida team. I don't mean to say that Tebow doesn't deserve some of the praise for what he has done, but how about some coverage of the Oklahoma team for balance!

hawk4evr 8 years, 11 months ago

Just a few thoughts on last night.1) Has any coach in the history of football choked as much as Bob Stoops? It was the same old OU in a BCS game. They played tentatively, and with very little emotion. Stoops makes some rediculous decions and puts his team in a hole they can't crawl out of. I don't know what the guy does in preparation for the bowl games but he needs to change it. 2) An ACC crew to afficiate the National Championship game? What, were the boys from the CFL not available?. This game deserves a good crew from a real football conference, ie., Big 10 or Pac 10 since the SEC and Big 12 were participants.3) Did anyone know that Florida has blocked 8 punts this year? If the announcers mentioned that one more time I was going to shoot my TV.4) Please NCAA, don't let FOX broadcast the big bowls again. Who were those guys last night? They couldn't even keep the downs straight let alone wouldn't shut up about Florida and Tebow.5) Big 12 bowl record: North 3-0, South 1-3. Thank god for the north.

Joe Joseph 8 years, 11 months ago

d_prowess,Regarding your thoughts on 'the great' Tim Tebow... I could not agree more. I am sick of hearing about him.Also,I am a little surprised KU did not receive more votes than they did in the final AP and Coaches polls (2 and 3 respectively). I guess a 10-4 Missouri team that stunk it up in its final 3 games is considerably more impressive than an 8-5 Kansas team that tore it up in its final 2 games.

FlaHawk 8 years, 11 months ago

Tebow once again proved the superiority of the SEC over Big XII. Florida had much fast athletes than OU and OU was flat as a pancake!I believe OU discounted the mighty Gator defense and added nothing for the title game. Florida was ready and shutdown Bradford and OU could not consistently "pull the trigger".Florida produces way more talent than Texas especially on the O and D lines and it showed last night.Florida has three backs Tebow, Harvin and Demps that are superior to anyone in Big XII. Rainey may also be close to all Big XII first team talent but does not play enough to show what he can do. To bad he got hurt.Lakeland HS, FL had 4 starters for Gators and they were all sophmores.KU needs to recuit more in Florida, after they can compete for the Texas talent.

Dan Harris 8 years, 11 months ago

kansas25-agreed. For those of you that said that the SEC was vastly superior to the Big12 I would disagree slightly. They do win bragging rights but not by a landslide. OU completely choked that game away last night. OU could have if not should have been ahead 24 or 28-7 at haltime. 1. Holding penalty wipes out 1st and goal from the 5 yrd line 2. STUPID play calling with 4 chances inside the 5 yrd line 3. Dropped ball at the goaline right before the half. 4. Blocked fg OU's defense played their butts off in the first half but their offense didn't puch it in when they had chance after chance and the defense finally couldn't hold anymore. While I agree what TT did was pathetic, remember Florida's only loss this year was to Miss St. Thank God for the North!

Cody Stumma 8 years, 11 months ago

The big 12 confrence should just forbid all south teams from competing in bowl games. Lol.The North did their part and it seems that OU should definitely not be allowed to be in a BCS game again... ever! Texas and Kansas can win them, OU can definitely not.

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