Keys to the BCS Title Game

I've been in South Florida long enough to develop a Cuban accent. We have conducted literally dozens of interviews trying to draw out analysis and insight from the players and coaches on both sides of this showdown between Florida and Oklahoma.

Everyone knows this game features two superb offenses but perhaps just one excellent defense. Both teams have strong special teams, but Oklahoma has demonstrated a susceptibility to giving up big returns on kickoffs. Florida's defense has excellent numbers, but the Gators have faced only one top 30 offense. Oklahoma's offense is the most productive in the history of college football, but the Sooners have not faced a single top 30 defense.

Some think it'll be a shootout, while others look for the defenses to rise up and make statements about their skill level. Most probably see it somewhere in between. Are these the two best teams in the country? I don't think so, but the winner is going to get the best trophy of them all as the BCS Champion and that's really all that matters.

This game will come down to a few things and of course everyone will point out turnovers which is the ultimate crutch for those who cannot or do not think. Besides these are the top two teams in the country in turnover differential for the odds are that will balance out. Here are five less blatantly obvious keys that I believe will determine the winner.

Third down conversions ----- Both of these offenses have the potential to light up a scoreboard like a Christmas tree. If each matched its season average 99 points would be scored, but that won't happen. Both defenses are good at limiting big plays which means the ultimate success will come down to the ability of each to keep drives going versus the ability of each defense to make a stop at get off the field.

Play with the lead ----- This is something I think Oklahoma has to do while Florida would like to do it. Oklahoma has played one tense fourth quarter all season and lost that game to Texas. Florida had to rally in the final 15 minutes to beat Alabama at full strength in the SEC Title Game. The Gators won't get uptight if they fall behind, but Oklahoma might.

Bradford's britches ----- They must be dirty by the end of the first quarter. ESPN had an amazing stat that Bradford had only been hit 37 times in more than a thousand offensive plays. Florida can't let him be that comfortable. They have to get physical early and often. They may even want to borrow from the Mickey Andrews playbook and hit to the echo of the whistle.

Harvin Versus Gresham ----- Percy Harvin (1,133 yards, 16 TD) is the one guy that Oklahoma can't handle. Well, let's face it nobody can handle Harvin when he's right. Florida's star runner/receiver may not be completely healed from his sprained ankle but he needs to be a productive player. Jermaine Gresham (58-888, 12 TD) is an imposing tight end unlike any Florida has seen this year. Think of South Carolina's Jared Cook except he's a little bigger, a little faster and he plays a lot harder. Florida has to limit his touches and not lose track of him in their zone coverages. Whoever does more – Harvin or Gresham – could well be the difference maker in this one.

Spring James without breaking rules ----- Brandon James' last three kickoff returns for touchdown have all been called back for penalties. Oklahoma has given up four kickoff return touchdowns and has struggled with coverage all year long. This is a golden opportunity for the Gators to exploit one of the few obvious weaknesses on this Oklahoma team.

The winning team will need to score at least two of these keys, but will probably get more. Is it game time yet?

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