National Championship Preview
The biggest game of the week is NOT in Pittsburgh, New York, Carolina or Tennessee. It’s in Miami for college football’s BCS National Championship game. Alex Ferguson gives you a preview of Florida vs Oklahoma.
FIRST, A LITTLE BIT OF BACKGROUND….
The Bowl Championship Series is one of the most hated formula in all of US sports. Basically, a computer decides who will be the top team in the nation and who will face off against them using a number of human and non-human factors. Many say that Oklahoma shouldn’t be in the National Title game, thanks to the fact that they lost to Texas in an intradivisional game midway through the season. There could have been the same question about Florida after they coughed it up to Ole Miss at home, but Florida have stomped on the likes of Georgia, LSU and beaten Alabama that pretty much cemented expectations.
There are rivalries all over the field on Thursday night. Why? Florida and Oklahoma have already called each other overrated (and that’s putting it nicely), so we can’t wait to see if Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is less good than Heisman winner Sam Bradford, Texas’ Colt McCoy, Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell, or Oklahoma State’s Zac Robinson. And we also can’t wait to see if Oklahoma’s juggernaut offense can shut up Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes, who frankly thinks they suck.
WHY FLORIDA WILL WIN
Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow. If you haven’t seen this guy, then you must have been on another planet in 2008. Not only is he a committed missionary in prisons and the Phillipines, but Tebow has been on a mission all season long: Florida Gator football. After the Gators lost at home to Ole Miss, Tebow assured the press that no-one would play harder than him for the rest of the year. And he wasn’t lying.
The thing that will also help Tebow and Florida to win their second National Championship in three years is their speedy backfield – Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and a returning Percy Harvin will cause too many problems for Oklahoma’s defense. Oh, and the special teams – which were a problem for the Sooners all season long – will continue to put a knife into the Sooners National Title hopes.
X-Factor: The crowd. Florida are playing in a home game. They only have to travel down the road to go this one, while for Oklahoma fans, it’s quite a haul. With the current financial situation, I’m calling for the crowd to 60%-40% in the Gators fans – some of the loudest in the business.
Here's a moment that shut up the Gators fans early on in the season:
WHY OKLAHOMA WILL WIN
First of all, the Sooners are dying to break the curse of losing big BCS bowls – which they’ve done to Boise State and West Virginia. They’ve got a 2-4 record so far, and they’ll be eager not to make it 2-5.
But thirst aside, Sooner fans will be really happy about the offense that carries their hopes. Led by Heisman-winning quarterback Sam Bradford, the Sooners have been scoring points for fun. Heck, they even scored 35 in a losing effort. Sure, Big XII defenses aren’t exactly the Baltimores or Pittsburghs of college football, but scoring 700 in a season? That’s pretty darned good.
Things will be made a little harder for Bradford by the injury to star running back DeMarco Murray, but Chris Brown is arguably one heck of a replacement. Juaquin Iglesias and Manny Johnson are two superb wide receivers – and Jermaine Gresham, the big tight end, is definitely going to play on Sundays.
And although people have made comments about Big XII defenses this week, we’d like to throw this one out there: Oklahoma’s defense is still a pretty good one. It’s opportunistic, it’s fast, and it can produce turnovers (32 of them in the regular season).
X-FACTOR: The respect card. There are a lot of people – including this writer – who have argued that Oklahoma should not have been afforded the chance to go to the National Championship Game due to the fact that they only won their divisional tiebreaker thanks to their BCS ranking – not the voters. The 45-35 loss to Texas still rankles with Sooner fans.
Here's a moment that Oklahoma fans will want to forget this season:
FOR THE NEUTRAL: Try and decide what’s more annoying: Florida’s ‘Gator Chomp’ or the cry of “Boomer! Sooner!” that erupts anytime you’re near Oklahoma Sooners fans. Pick the one that annoys you less.
THE VERDICT: This one’s going down to the wire. Florida by seven.