(Audio by Mark McLeod/Bob Redman)
The University of Florida football team (12-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) has been selected to meet Ohio State in the BCS National Championship on Jan. 8, 2007. The Fiesta Bowl will host the contest at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., as part of a double-hosting model with the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
UF's appearance in the BCS National Championship Game will mark the third time in school history that it has entered a bowl game with a chance to win the national title. The Gators claimed the 1996 NCAA crown with a 52-20 victory over top-ranked Florida State in the Sugar Bowl behind a three-touchdown, 306-yard performance from Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel. The Gators also played for the national championship in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl after posting a 12-0 regular-season record.
The matchup will also be the first-ever meeting between Florida and Ohio State on the gridiron. The Gators own a 5-3 all-time record in bowl games against teams from the Big Ten, including a 31-24 win over Iowa in the 2006 Outback Bowl.
Florida's 12 wins heading into their bowl showdown with Ohio State match the 1995 and 1996 teams for the highest single-season total in school history, and their 11-1 regular-season record put them next to the 1995 squad as the only pair of teams in program history to win 11 games prior to a conference championship or bowl game.
UF will enter the BCS National Championship Game after claiming the seventh SEC title in school history with a 38-28 win over Arkansas in the conference championship game. Senior quarterback Chris Leak (Charlotte, N.C.) threw for 189 yards and a touchdown, while freshman wide receiver Percy Harvin (Virginia Beach, Va.) took home MVP honors after running for a career-high 105 yards, catching five passes for 62 yards and scoring touchdowns both through the air and on the ground.