Crikey!: Florida 41, Ohio State 14, BCS National Championship Game
Posted by Mike on January 8, 2007
(Updated Jan. 9)
7:45 pm: Well, this is it: the second most important game of the season, the National Championship. I say the second most important because nothing, NOTHING could top the implications set by Boise State’s Fiesta Bowl win. Tonight I will blog the national Championship LIVE as it happens.
From the very beginning of the season, the Ohio State Buckeyes asserted themselves as the best team in the country, and no one questions their presence in this year’s Championship game. As for the Gators, prior to the Rose Bowl there were many fans and reporters, myself included, who felt that after hanging tough with Ohio State in Columbus, Michigan should be playing for the National Championship instead of the Gators. My argument against Florida was Western Carolina. No team should ever schedule a home game versus a 1-AA patsy in November.
Boy, did we Michigan supporters look bad when USC took the Wolverines to the cleaners in the Rose Bowl. Florida does deserve to be in this game in spite of Western Carolina, because they were the best team in arguably the nation’s toughest football conference, the SEC. Ohio State will have their hands full.
I think the remaining piece of this championship in the equation in Boise State. I think they should be considered for the AP Championship if both teams play badly tonight and Florida wins an ugly game. While the Coaches Poll is required by contract to choose the winner of tonight’s game as the National Champion, the AP has no such obligation, and we may see votes for Boise State to be number one.
Five key players who are NOT the starting QB/RB/WR:
- Reggie Nelson, FS, Florida. Nelson will be the man assigned to defend Buckeyes uber WR Ted Ginn. He is shutdown corner with the ability to take advantage of all opportunities; he has 6 INTs, and returned 1 for a touchdown this season. If anyone can keep up with Ginn, Reggie Nelson can. The passing of his mother in December could be an interesting subplot.
- James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State. He is one of nine first-year starters on defense, and he has been the leader of the Buckeyes on the defensive end all year. Laurinitis led the Buckeyes with 100 tackles, including 4.5 sacks, 5 INTs, and 3 forced fumbles. This year, the Buckeyes had the sixth best overall defense in the nation, and Laurinaitis has been one of its driving forces.
- Tim Tebow, Backup QB, Florida. Chris Leak should see about 80-85% of Florida’s offensive snaps tonight, but whenever Tebow is on the field the Buckeyes will have to approach the game much differently. The freshman QB is a fast, versatile, emotional player, who won’t be afraid of the Buckeyes defense or this game.
- Quinn Pitcock, DT, Ohio State. One of only two seniors on defense, Pitcock is a space eater on defensive line, occupying the offensive line, putting pressure on the quarterback and allowing Laurinaitis to operate optimally at middle linebacker. Make no mistake, in front of every good linebacker is a good defensive tackle occupying the guards.
- Chris Hetland, K, Florida. This gator is an impact player for the wrong reasons. This season he is an abysmal 4 for 13 on field goal attempts, including 1 for 10 on FGs over 30 yards. But all can be forgiven with one good kick at the right time.
The national championship game is only minutes away. I can’t wait!
8:02 pm: It’s only a matter of minutes until this game starts. So why am I flipping through the channels?
Bizarre ad alert: Domino’s To Go Pizza.
8:10 pm: FOX’s coverage of the game features Florida alum Emmitt Smith and OSU alum Eddie George. And you know what? They aren’t doing too bad for their first live broadcast ever.
8:15 pm: The new stadium in Glendale, AZ may be home to the NFL’s Cardinals, but the fact remains that the biggest games in this stadium will be played by other teams.
8:20 pm: FOX completely botched coverage of the pregame national anthem. No amount of delicious sauce can cover the bitter flavor of this mistake.
8:30 pm: Florida has won the toss, and will kick the ball of to begin the game.
8:35 pm: TOUCHDOWN OHIO STATE! The Buckeyes start the game with a bang, as Ted Ginn returns the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. 7-0, OSU.
8:37 pm: Florida responds with a good return of their own. Tack on a facemask penalty and Florida starts at the 44.
8:39 pm: Florida gets a generous spot on third down, and gets a second first down. Leak is throwing the ball well.
8:40 pm: Tebow is in the back field as Leak takes the snap. He gets the ball and runs for seven yards down the middle. I love this guy’s attitude.
Ohio State seems to be playing a conservative zone defense. It isn’t working very well.
8:42 pm: TOUCHDOWN FLORIDA! On their first play in the red zone, Leak connects with Dallas Baker on a stop-and-go. It’s now tied, 7-7.
8:47 pm: Bizarre ad alert: Bud Light’s new commercial.
8:49 pm: Now we get to see the Ohio St. offense.
8:50 pm: The Florida defense starts by forcing a three-and out, forcing a coverage sack on third down. (A coverage sack is when the secondary defends the lanes of the receivers long enough that the defensive line is able to get to the quarterback when they normally would not.) Florida will again start with excellent field position thanks to another penalty.
8:54 pm: Bizarre ad alert: Allstate car chase.
8:56 pm: After two unimpressive plays, Leak again makes a huge pass on third down, and now Tebow is taking the snap on first and goal. The play doens’t do much.
8:57 pm: Leak back in the game.
9:00 pm: TOUCHDOWN FLORIDA! Leak options to Percy Harvin for the score...but a replay shows that Harvin did not cross the line before going down. The play is upheld. 14-7, Florida.
9:04 pm: The stands look just like they did last week: a mixture of orange, blue, and red. Perhaps this foretells a heroic Florida victory? Hmmmmmm?
9:06 pm: The ready to play rule is going to be the difference between winning and losing in this game. Someone is going to lose because they ran out of time.
Ted Ginn is hurt, and is headed to the locker room. Can Anthony Gonzalez pick up the slack?
9:07 pm: Florida’s Derrick Harvey gets a huge sack, his second tonight…but he gets hurt in the process as well. Fortunately, it looks like he’s going to be OK.
9:09 pm: Ohio State commits another penalty, and it looks like Tressel is about to get committed; he’s really angry. The Buckeyes have yet to gain their first offensive yard.
9:10 pm: INTERCEPTION! Troy Smith gets leveled as he lets it go, and Reggie Lewis catches the lame duck. Florida certainly is controlling this game at this point. If not for Ginn’s kick return, this would qualify as utter domination.
9:12 pm: Leak is 8-8 so far in this game. Ohio State has got to start playing man-to man, or blitz.
They must to something to disrupt the pace of this offense.
9:15 pm: Again Leak converts on third down, this time to Andre Caldwell. He is getting no defensive pressure whatsoever. Florida needs to thank their offensive line.
9:17 pm: In goes Tebow. He goes down at the 2 yard line to end the first quarter. 14-7, Florida.
9:20 pm: FOX is cancelling the OC. There is a God!
9:21 pm: TOUCHDOWN FLORIDA! Deshawn Wynn bangs it in on third down. 21-7, Florida.
9:24 pm: FOX thinks Ohio State is struggling because they went 51 days without playing. I think it’s because they haven’t played an SEC defense. D-FENCE! clap clap D-FENCE! clap clap…
9:26 pm: Just as I say that, the Gators commit a silly personal foul, Troy Smith runs into the red zone, and ANTONIO PITTMAN runs in for the TOUCHDOWN. 21-14, Ohio State. This game is making me sound idiotic.
By the way, I take it back. Florida is so good, they deserve the championship more than Boise State regardless of the result of this game.
9:34 pm: Florida’s offense has begun to slow down. This is direct result of the defense finally putting pressure on Leak. He’s still converting on third down, though.
9:40 pm: Ohio State forces the Gators to punt as Leak finally gets serious defensive pressure.
9:42 pm: Bizarre ad alert: On, off, on, off, on, off.
9:45 pm: Florida is reasserting its defensive dominance, as Ohio State abandons the run and gets a quick 3-and-out. This series makes no sense for the Buckeyes; instead of using the bread and butter of their offense, the running game, Troy Smith throws three quick incomplete passes against Florida’s excellent secondary.
9:49 pm: Less than nine minutes in the second quarter. Leak and Tebow on the field, and Tebow runs up the middle again.
9:51 pm: Again Ohio State plays zone, and again Leak converts a pass on third down. The Buckeyes need to disrupt Leak’s timing on such important downs.
9:52 pm: Percy Harvin gets the ball on two big plays and takes the Gators into the red zone. Florida is blocking excellently tonight.
9:53 pm: Leak throws his first bad pass, and is almost intercepted in the red zone. I have been shocked by how well he has played, and how Tebow has yet to be a factor.
9:54 pm: Third and 15 for Florida at the 25, and Leak throws it away with nothing but green in front of him. This does not bode well for their kicker.
9:56 pm: Just as I say that, Chris Hetland nails a 43-yard field goal down the middle. 24-14, Florida.
9:58 pm: No. No. NO! The FOX commentator did not just make a reference to the movie “Waiting to Exhale“, the prototype chick flick. He did not just do that! Oh, man, that guy must be either girly or whipped.
10:00 pm: Ohio St. goes for it on 4th down and fails, as the defensive line pushes the line of scrimmage two yards backwards. RB Chris Wells did not have a chance. Florida now has great field position with the chance to put their foot on the Buckeyes’ throat before halftime.
I can’t say that I blame Tressel for the decision. If I were a coach, I would go for it on 4th and 1 no matter what the field position. The only major coach that does that is USC coach Pete Carroll and I commend him for his cajones.
10:06 pm: Hetland drills a field goal down the middle again! If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this guy was an NFL-caliber kicker. 1:53 left in the first half, 27-14 Florida. Ironically, this game’s tempo is similar to the Fiesta Bowl thus far.
10:08 pm: On the next offensive play, Troy Smith fumbles the ball, Derrick Harvey recovers and returns it to the five. If not for Ginn, I would say that Ohio State is taking a b—–slapping, although I think I just did. Oh, snap!
10:11 pm: TOUCHDOWN FLORIDA! Tebow fakes the run and throws it into the endzone with his left hand for the score to Andre Caldwell. 34-14 Florida. This truly is a b—–slapping by Florida at this point, considering that Ohio State was the undisputed best team in the country coming into this game.
10:15 pm: Florida commits a bad penalty, but it ends up not harming them as the Gators go into halftime leading 34-14, and in complete control of this game, and receiving the ball to open the second half with a chance to go up by 27, a possibly insurmountable deficit versus such a good opponent. Then again, this is still THE Ohio State University, and they could still mount a comeback.
10:30 pm: For you Ohio State fans, there’s a much more upbeat and less violent event worth watching on AMC right now: Rambo II.
10:43 pm: Chris Leak may have made the best play of the night by turning a potentially disastrous play into an average one. The center snapped the ball very low making the ball live, but Leak did not panic, picked up the ball and threw the ball out of bounds.
10:45 pm: Florida goes 3-and-out and makes a horrible 20 yard punt. OSU starts in good field position; maybe they’e not out of this yet.
10:47 pm: Troy Smith gets sacked by a lineman not wearing a helmet. It was awesome, to see Everett’s deadlocks fly on impact. WHOOOO!
In case you haven’t noticed, tonight I’m slightly partial to the Gators, for the sole reason that my cousin is a Buckeyes fan.
10:50 pm: Bizarre ad alert: “This is Mommy and Daddy wrestling.”
10:54 pm: It looks like Ted Ginn is not returning to the game; he’s wearing crutches and is out of pads.
10:56 pm: The Gators defense is really making the Buckeyes offense look bad tonight. Then again, they’re acting like the forward pass is the only valid way to advance the ball. They’e the Anti-Woody Hayes team right now.
11:04 pm: The Gators defense holds again, and and with 19 minutes left in the game Ohio State is really starting to run out of time. They simply cannot afford to let the Gators score again.
11:09 pm: Florida is driving thanks to a 17-yard run by Deshawn Wynn, but it’s third and 6.
11:10 pm: Again Leak connects for a first on third down to a WIDE OPEN receiver down the middle. The Buckeyes need to abandon the zone. NOW.
11:15 pm: The third quarter ends with the game still Florida 34, Ohio State 14. I hate to say this, but this game is actually starting to get boring.
11:23 pm: Sack! Troy Smith backpedals 15 yards before being pummeled on third down. The Gators will get it at the OSU 39. If the Gators score, there’s absolutely nothing the Buckeyes can do to come back.
11:25 pm: For you Buckeye fans who want something uplifting, Rambo II is still on AMC.
11:27 pm: Chris Leak runs into field goal range. At this point I have to give him the MVP along with the Gators defense.
11:29 pm: Ohio State is playing completely flat-footed. Either they’re completely exhausted or they have simply quit. Either way, the Gators have played well enough to be called the undisputed champion.
11:32 pm: Florida goes for the touchdown on fourth and goal…and it works! Tebow runs it in for the score. 41-14, Florida.
Who would’ve thought that Florida would put a bigger beating on the Buckeyes than USC gave to Michigan or LSU gave to Notre Ame? (no “D”!)
11:40 pm: In this game, Florida has outgained Ohio State 380-84. Now that’s what I call defensive dominance.
11:47 pm: Oh no he didn’t! The FOX commentator who made a “Waiting to Exhale” reference now made a reference to “Dancing with the Stars”. What’s worse is that the show is on a rival network. That dude is a chick. I’m sure of it.
11:52 pm: I was wrong four hours ago. Florida’s performance tonight does have bigger implications on the football world than the Boise State win in the Fiesta Bowl. In part, it shows that no matter how good a team is, you can’t crown them champions before the season ends. It also reasserts the SEC’s dominance in the college football universe.
11:57 pm: The game goes final: Florida 41, Ohio State 14. Ted Ginn’s kickoff return is the only reason Columbus hasn’t sunk into the Olentangy river tonight.
Florida, and the SEC as a whole has emphatically asserted their place in the college football universe.
Players of the Game:
- Chris Leak, QB, Florida. If I told you that in this game one quarterback threw the ball at will on third down while the other quarterback struggled against a physical defense, you would have said Smith was the star and Leak struggled, right? WRONG! The Charlotte, NC native threw for 213 yards and a touchdown on 25/36 passing, and was in complete control of the offense in his final game in a Gators uniform.
- Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida. He helped the Gators to dominate the line of scrimmage the entire game. He had 3 of Florida’s 6 sacks of Troy Smith, including a play where Jarvis Moss sacked Smith, forced a fumble, Harvey recovered the ball and returned it to the 5 yard line, which set up the touchdown that put Florida up 34-14 at the end of the first half and essentially put the game out of reach.