ITAT Picks The National Championship

Mark Murphy, Jason Caldwell and Stephen Atkinson give their take on the national championship game between Florida and Oklahoma on Thursday at 7 p.m. on FOX.

Stephen's Take: Top 10 Reasons Why Florida Will Win
10. The SEC is 4-0 all-time in BCS Championship games including wins the last two seasons.
9. Florida is 3-1 all-time in BCS games.
8. Oklahoma made four trips to BCS games in the previous five years and lost all four. If that's not bad enough, the Sooners gave up an average of 41.8 points in the losses. Oklahoma surrendered 48 points to West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl last year as Noel Devine made OU defenders look silly. Jeff Demps + Percy Harvin + Brandon James + Louis Murphy + Chris Rainey = Devine x 5.
7. The 2008 Sooners have given up 21 points or more in eight consecutive games.
6. The 2008 Gators have given up 21 points or fewer in nine consecutive games, and defense wins championships.
5. Usually national championship games are a case of "something has to give" as potent offenses meet stingy defenses. That won't be the case when Tim Tebow and the Gator offense takes the field. Since Oct. 11, Florida has scored 50.9 points per game while Oklahoma has allowed 31.3.
4. Heisman trophy winners this decade are 1-5 playing in the national championship game the same season as taking home the hardware. History isn't on the side of Sam Bradford. In 2003 against LSU, Oklahoma's Jason White was just 13-37 for 102 yards, a pair of interceptions and no touchdowns after bringing home the Heisman just a month earlier.
3. Because of the complexity of the Florida offense and new wrinkles every week, the Gators under Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen have often had trouble getting lined up properly and thus get hit with a delay of game or have to burn timeouts one after another. The countless formations are confusing to defenses, but also to the Florida players. However, the Gators have had 33 days to get ready for this game. Florida is 11-1 under Meyer with more than seven days to prepare.
2. Running back DeMarco Murray won't be playing, but that's no big deal since the Sooners still have Chris Brown, right? Wrong. Brown has 1,110 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns, but what makes the Oklahoma offense is the no-huddle and versatility of guys like tight end Jermaine Gresham and Murray. In addition to 1,000-plus rushing yards and 14 TDs on the ground, Murray caught 31 passes for 395 yards and four touchdowns. Brown isn't a receiving threat, so the Sooners can't make the switch from five-wide to a power-running attack without changing personnel like they could with Murray in the game. That will slow down the pace and take away one of OU's strengths.
1. Tim Tebow.
Florida 41, Oklahoma 28

Jason's Take: The 2008 BCS Championship Game is one that I have gone back and forth on for much of the last month. The history of both the SEC and Oklahoma in recent BCS games is just that, history. It won't matter how well Florida and LSU have played in the last two seasons when the Gators take on Oklahoma Thursday night in Miami. None of the Sooner players will have even a thought of the last time Bob Stoops coached in town, an embarrassing loss to USC in the title game.

Nope, this game is all about match ups and it's actually a good one for the Sooners for a change. While not very good defensively, Oklahoma's offense has a chance to up the pace of the title game and force the Gators to match their tempo. If the massive offensive line can protect Sam Bradford then Oklahoma has a very good chance to take the victory. If Florida's quickness up front on defense makes problems for Phil Loadholt, Duke Robinson and company, then it's lights out for the Sooners.

Percy Harvin's health will be an issue for Florida's offense. Without him fully healthy things could be dicey as was shown in the SEC Championship game. Tim Tebow has done it all as a college football player, except not win the big game. That time has come. Oklahoma 34, Florida 31

Mark's Take: There are a lot of reasons to like either team in what looks to be one of the more compelling BCS title games heading into Thursday night's showdown.

Oklahoma's offense has been awesome most of the season. The Sooners have been effective running the ball with an average of 205.5 yards per game and have been awesome when they chunk the football. Sam Bradford has put up terrific numbers with 4,816 passing yards for 48 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Making that possible is an impressive offensive front that gives him plenty of time to find his receivers.

Florida star Tim Tebow has an even more impressive touchdown/interception ratio with 28 passes for scores and just two interceptions this year. However, he has thrown for just a bit more than half as many yards as Bradford with 2,515.

The advantage on offense appears to be in Oklahoma's favor, but there doesn't seem to be much doubt that the defensive play in the Big 12 where the Sooners play is a couple of notches below the SEC.

Florida's defensive unit has been surprisingly good this year, giving up just 279.3 yards per game. Oklahoma is giving up 359.1 yards per game, but has faced an unusual number of QBs having big years, which wasn't the case for the Gators.

Florida looks to have the edge in the kicking game, which might be the difference in a close game, and this certainly could be close. The Gators' terrific speed also must be factored into the equation as should Oklahoma's past failures on this big stage, but this group of Sooners, despite being a five-point underdog, looks like it can win the big one. Oklahoma 31, Florida 28


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