Bradford Looks to Avoid Heisman Curse

This year's BCS Championship Game has a pair of Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks squaring off for just the second time ever. Interestingly enough, the first time that happened was the last time the BCS title was settled at Dolphins Stadium. An Oklahoma quarterback was one of the two Heisman winners involved.

Sooner fans have to hope for a different result in this year's clash between Tim Tebow and reigning Heisman winner Sam Bradford, because Matt Leinart and USC smoked Jason White's OU squad 55-19 four years ago.

The track record of Heisman winners playing for the BCS title the same year hasn't been pretty, with them losing four of five. Leinart was the only one to guide his team to the championship. Bradford feels he's avoided some of the distractions which may have negatively impacted the performance of those Heisman winners.

"The Heisman was really special and it was fun to be in New York, but as soon as I got back to Norman I just got back to being as normal as I could," said the redshirt sophomore quarterback.

If Bradford is his normal self against the Gators, he'll be extremely accurate with his throws. Bradford completed 68.3 percent of his passes this season and posted a stellar 186.28 efficiency rating. Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes needs no convincing that the Sooners quarterback is special.

"He scans the defense and knows what coverages are on," Spikes said. "I think he does a great job of that."

"He does a good job of throwing the ball on a tight line. If we're playing man we're going to have to stick him because we can't let him sit back and sling the ball."

Sacking Bradford has proved easier said than done behind Oklahoma's massive offensive line. Opponents have only gotten to Sooner quarterbacks 11 times all year. That's why Florida's priority is more about pressuring him into making rushed throws rather than anticipating sacks.

"Sam Bradford being a Heisman winner, we've got to just try to contain him," Gators junior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham said. "Once he gets on rhythm he's one of the best at throwing the ball, so we have to keep him off rhythm. "

When a player gets as much attention as a Heisman winner does, there's always the chance it creates some resentment among his teammates. Bradford's team does come across as genuinely happy for him, perhaps because he's been fairly low key about the honor (as opposed to Ohio State's Troy Smith two years ago).

"Everything about Sam makes Sam a great player for us... him reading the defense, his poise in the pocket, and him being a great leader for this offense," said star Oklahoma receiver Juaquin Iglesias.

Sooners center Jon Cooper describes it as "fun to watch Sam, he earns everything he's got" but adds "he's been business as usual, just regular Sam to us" since winning the Heisman.

Bradford knows he has a significant test ahead of him Thursday trying to pick apart a Florida defense that has been able to hold their 13 opponents to 51 first half points combined all season. The Sooners have cruised to 54 points per game.

"The Florida defense is probably one of the best defenses we've seen all year," Bradford said. "They're very aggressive, especially in the secondary.... their front four is extrememly talented."

Bradford wasn't sure there's a team his Sooners have played that resembles Florida on defense, and the one he eventually picked was Texas. Considering the Longhorns held the Sooners to 35 and gave them their only loss, Florida is certainly hoping he's right.


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