BCS National Championship Preview

The waiting is over. The anxiety is intensifying. Finally, after 51 days for Ohio State and 37 days for Florida, the two teams will play in college football's Super Bowl tonight at 8 PM for the right to call themselves National Champions. We have an in-depth preview of this huge game.

BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

 

Who: Ohio State (12-0) vs. Florida (12-1)

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium - Glendale, Ariz.

When: Tonight, 8 PM (Fox)

 

HOW THEY GOT THERE

 

OHIO STATE

 

Date Opponent Result

Sat., Sep 2 Northern Illinois W 35-12

Sat., Sep 9 @Texas W 24-7

Sat., Sep 16 Cincinnati W 37-7

Sat., Sep 23 Penn State W 28-6

Sat., Sep 30 @Iowa W 38-17

Sat., Oct 7 Bowling Green W 35-7

Sat., Oct 14 @Michigan State W 38-7

Sat., Oct 21 Indiana W 44-3

Sat., Oct 28 Minnesota W 44-0

Sat., Nov 4 @Illinois W 17-10

Sat., Nov 11 @Northwestern W 54-10

Sat., Nov 18 Michigan W 42-39

 

FLORIDA

 

Date Opponent Result

Sat., Sep 2 Southern Miss W 34-7

Sat., Sep 9 UCF W 42-0

Sat., Sep 16 @Tennessee W 21-20

Sat., Sep 23 Kentucky W 26-7

Sat., Sep 30 Alabama W 28-13

Sat., Oct 7 LSU W 23-10

Sat., Oct 14 @Auburn L 27-17

Sat., Oct 28 Georgia W 21-14

Sat., Nov 4 @Vanderbilt W 25-19

Sat., Nov 11 South Carolina W 17-16

Sat., Nov 18 Western Carolina W 62-0

Sat., Nov 25 @Florida State W 21-14

Sat., Dec 2 Arkansas W 38-28

 

After what seems like an eternity for fans of Ohio State and Florida, finally the Buckeyes and Gators and do battle for the BCS National Championship game. Who has the edge?

 

On paper, Ohio State looks good to win their second National Championship in the last five years under head coach Jim Tressel. But this is, as they say, why they play the game.

 

When the Buckeyes last won in 2002, they were 11-point underdogs to the Miami Hurricanes – who were riding high on a 34-game win streak. Not unlike 2002, Ohio State enters Monday night's game considered heavy favorites against Florida.

 

"Not so fast, my friend," say the Buckeyes.

 

Heisman Trophy quarterback Troy Smith and the rest of his veteran teammates have insisted for weeks that they are totally focused and will not accept this game is supposed to be a cakewalk. Smith has lost just two games as a starting quarterback in his Ohio State career and finished 3-0 against archrival Michigan.

 

It was Smith's 348 yards passing against the Wolverines that helped lead the Buckeyes to a 42-39 victory, getting Ohio State to a nearly unanimous spot in the BCS Standings. The Gators, meanwhile, surpassed Michigan for No. 2 in the standings two weeks later after their 38-28 win against Arkansas in the SEC Championship game. The jump was made possible by virtue of the Gators passing Michigan in both the Coaches and Harris Polls after voters had previously placed Florida at No. 3.

 

Florida's quantum leap may or may not have been aided by Urban Meyer's public pleas. The Ohio native scolded the media by saying his team deserved to play Ohio State, and if Michigan instead got a rematch after losing to the Buckeyes, it would essentially be an outrage.

 

Meyer, who grew up idolizing Woody Hayes and the Buckeyes as well as starting his coaching career at Ohio State as a graduate assistant under former OSU head coach Earle Bruce, got his wish.

 

For the first time in the schools' histories, Florida and Ohio State will meet on the gridiron. Ohio State blew out a majority of their opponents, with only Illinois and Michigan finishing within 17 points of them. Florida, on the other hand, won five games by a total of seven points or less and all but four of their 13 games were within 17 points.

 

But the Gators are loaded.

 

Florida has defeated their opponents because of their play in the second and third quarters this season. In the second quarter, Florida is beating opponents 130-32. In the third quarter, they've given up just an additional 48 points.

 

Ohio State is looking for their seventh National Championship. Florida, on the other hand, is looking for a second – their first one coming in 1996.

 

Here is the rest of the 2006 BCS National Championship Game Preview:

 

STARTERS

 

OHIO STATE OFFENSE

 

SE 80 Brian Robiskie (6-3, 195 So.) Cleveland, Ohio (Chagrin Falls)

29 receptions for 383 yards (13.2 yards per reception); 5 touchdowns

 

SL 11 Anthony Gonzalez (6-0, 195 Jr.) Cleveland, Ohio (St. Ignatius)

49 receptions for 723 yards (14.8); 8 touchdowns

 

TE 88 Rory Nicol (6-5, 250 So.) Beaver, Penn. (Beaver Area)

13 receptions for 151 yards (11.6); 3 touchdowns

 

LT 75 Alex Boone (6-8, 325 So.) Lakewood, Ohio (St. Edward)

 

LG 72 T.J. Downing (6-4, 305 Sr.) Canton, Ohio (GlenOak)

 

 C 50 Doug Datish (6-5, 295 Sr.) Warren, Ohio (Howland)

 

RG 71 Steve Rehring (6-8, 330 Sr.) West Chester, Ohio (Lakota West)

 

RT 74 Kirk Barton (6-6, 310 Jr.) Massillon, Ohio (Perry)

 

QB 10 Troy Smith (6-1, 215 Sr.) Cleveland, Ohio (Glenville)

199-of-297 passing (67 percent) for 2,507 yards; 30 touchdowns / 5 interceptions

62 rushes for 233 yards; 1 touchdown

 

TB 25 Antonio Pittman (5-11, 195 Jr.) Akron, Ohio (Buchtel)

232 rushes for 1,171 yards (5.0 per carry); 13 touchdowns

 

FL 7 Ted Ginn (6-0, 180 Jr.) Cleveland, Ohio (Glenville)

Team-high 59 receptions for 781 yards (13.2 yards per catch); 9 touchdowns

 

FLORIDA DEFENSE

 

DE 94 Jarvis Moss (6-6, 223 Jr.) Denton, Texas (Ryan)

54 tackles, nine for loss; 5.5 sacks; 4 pass breakups; 3 forced fumbles

 

DT 95 Ray McDonald (6-3, 285 Sr.) Belle Glade, Fla. (Glades Central)

33 tackles, 4.5 for loss; 3 sacks; 5 pass breakups

 

DT 20 Joe Cohen (6-2, 275 Sr.) Melbourne, Fla. (Palm Bay)

26 tackles and 2 for loss;

 

DE 90 Derrick Harvey (6-4, 260 So.) Greenbelt, Mary. (Roosevelt)

31 tackles, 10 for loss; team-high 8 sacks

 

OLB 13 Brian Crum (6-3, 235 Sr.) Woodbine, Ga. (Camden County)

30 tackles, 3 for loss; 1 pass breakup

 

ILB 40 Brandon Siler (6-2, 240 Jr.) Orlando, Fla. (Evans)

73 tackles, nine for loss; 3 sacks; 3 pass breakups and a forced fumble as well as a fumble recovery

 

OLB 30 Earl Everett (6-2, 230 Sr.) Webster, Fla. (South Sumter)

78 tackles, six for loss; 1 sack; 2 pass breakups as the team's leading tackler

 

CB 28 Ryan Smith (5-10, 165 Jr.) Diamond Bar, Calif. (Bishop Amat Memorial)

52 tackles; 3.5 for loss; team-high 8 interceptions; 7 pass breakups

 

 S 19 Tony Joiner (5-11, 200 Jr.) Haines City, Fla. (Haines City)

58 tackles, 4.5 for loss; 5 pass breakups, 2 interceptions and a forced fumble

 

 S 1 Reggie Nelson (6-1, 175 Jr.) Melbourne, Fla. (Coffeyville JC)

50 tackles; 5 pass breakups and 6 interceptions; 1 fumble recovery

 

CB 22 Reggie Lewis (5-10, 190 Sr.) Jacksonville, Fla. (First Coast)

27 tackles; 6 pass breakups and 3 interceptions

 

OHIO STATE DEFENSE

 

DE 50 Vernon Gholston (6-4, 260 So.) Detroit, Mich. (Cass Tech)

44 tackles, 14 for loss; 7.5 sacks

 

DT 90 Quinn Pitcock (6-3, 290 Sr.) Piqua, Ohio (Piqua)

36 tackles, 11 for loss; team-high 8.0 sacks

 

DT 93 David Patterson (6-3, 285 Sr.) Warrensville Heights, Ohio (Warrensville Heights)

18 tackles

 

DE 99 Jay Richardson (6-5, 275 Sr.) Dublin, Ohio (Scioto)

24 tackles, 8.5 for loss; 4 sacks; 7 pass breakups

 

OLB 51 Ross Homan (6-1, 235 Fr.) Coldwater, Ohio (Coldwater)

28 tackles, 2 for loss; 1 sack; 1 interception

 

ILB 33 James Laurinaitis (6-3, 245 So.) Hamel, Minn. (Wayzata)

100 tackles, 8.5 for loss; 4 sacks; 5 interceptions; 3 forced fumbles

 

OLB 1 Marcus Freeman (6-2, 240 So.) Huber Heights, Ohio (Wayne)

56 tackles, 2.5 for loss; 6 pass breakups and 2.5 interceptions

 

CB 2 Malcolm Jenkins (6-1, 200 So.) Piscataway, N.J. (Piscataway)

51 tackles, 2.5 for loss; 3 pass breakups and 4 interceptions

 

 S 3 Jamario O'Neal (6-1, 200 So.) Cleveland, Ohio (Glenville)

24 tackles; 1 interception

 

 S 32 Brandon Mitchell (6-3, 205 Sr.) Atlanta, Ga. (Mays)

51 tackles, 3 for loss; 4 pass breakups and 2 interceptions; 2 fumble recoveries

 

CB 14 Antonio Smith (5-9, 195 Sr.) Columbus, Ohio (Beechcroft)

66 tackles, 10 for loss; 2 sacks; 1 pass breakup and 2 interceptions; 1 forced fumble

 

FLORIDA OFFENSE

 

SE 81 Dallas Baker (6-3, 205 Sr.) New Smyrna Beach, Fla. (New Smyrna Beach)

Team-high 56 receptions for 897 yards (16.0 yards per reception); 9 touchdowns

 

SL 6 Jemalle Cornelius (5-11, 176 Sr.) Fort Meade, Fla. (Fort Meade)

29 receptions for 473 yards (16.3 yards per catch); 3 touchdowns

 

TE 84 Tate Casey (6-6, 240 Jr.) Longview, Texas (Longview)

6 receptions for 58 yards; 2 touchdowns

 

LT 75 Phil Trautwein (6-6, 310 Jr.) Vorhees, N.J. (Eastern)

 

LG 63 Jim Tartt (6-3, 305 So.) Sopchoppy, Fla. (Wakulla)

 

 C 79 Steve Rissler (6-3, 310 Sr.) Sarasota, Fla. (Riverview)

 

RG 67 Drew Miller (6-5, 292 Jr.) Sarasota, Fla. (Riverview)

 

RT 73 Carlton Medder (6-5, 320 Jr.) Clermont, Fla. (South Medder)

 

QB 12 Chris Leak (6-2, 210 Sr.) Charlotte, N.C. (Independence)

207-of-329 passing (62.9 percent) for 2,729 yards; 22 touchdowns/13 interceptions

Tim Tebow: 357 yards passing and 4 touchdowns; 430 yards rushing and 7 touchdowns

 

TB 21 Deshawn Wynn (5-11, 230 Sr.) Cincinnati, Ohio (Reading)

124 rushes for 630 yards (5.1 yards per carry); 5 touchdowns

 

FL 5 Andre Caldwell (6-1, 200 Jr.) Tampa, Fla. (Jefferson)

FL 8 Percy Harvin (5-11, 175 Fr.) Virginia Beach, Va. (Landstown)

Caldwell: 55 catches for 571 yards (10.4 yards per catch); 5 touchdowns

Harvin: 25 catches for 367 yards (14.7); 2 touchdowns; 36 rushes for 406 yards (11.3)

 

OHIO STATE SPECIAL TEAMS

 

 K 20 Aaron Pettrey (6-1, 190 Fr.) Raceland, Ky. (Raceland-Worthington)

8-of-11 field goal attempts; long 51 yards; 3-of-4 from 40-49; 2-of-3 from 50+

35 of 60 kickoffs for touchbacks

 

 P 15 A.J. Trapasso (6-1, 220 So.) Pickerington, Ohio (Central)

43 punts for 41.0 yards per punt; 4 touchbacks / 15 placed inside 20-yard line

 

KR 7 Ted Ginn (6-0, 180 Jr.) Cleveland, Ohio (Glenville)

17 returns for 347 yards (20.4 per return)

 

PR Ginn

24 returns for 266 yards (11.1 per return); 1 touchdown

 

FLORIDA SPECIAL TEAMS

 

 K 39 Chris Hetland (6-0, 184 Sr.) Leesburg, Ga. (Lee County)

4-of-13 field goal attempts; long 33 yards; 1-of-7 from 30-39

 

 P 10 Eric Wilbur (6-2, 195 Sr.) Winter Park, Fla. (Trinity Prep)

49 punts for 42.2 yards per punt; 3 touchbacks/ 22 placed inside 20-yard line

 

KR 25 Brandon James (5-7, 180 Fr.) St. Augustine, Fla. (St. Augustine)

20 returns for 350 yards (17.5 per return)

 

PR James

29 returns for 339 yards (11.6 per return); 1 touchdown

 

OHIO STATE OFFENSE vs. FLORIDA DEFENSE

 

OSU Rush Offense: 180.1 yards per game (4.7 per rush); Ranked No. 16

FLA Rush Defense: 74.5 yards per game (2.8 per rush); Ranked No. 5

 

OSU Pass Offense: 229.7 yards per game; Ranked No. 33 (No. 4 in efficiency)

FLA Pass Defense: 194.3 yards per game; Ranked No. 44 (No. 5 in efficiency)

 

OSU Total Offense: 409.8 yards per game (6.3 per play); Ranked No. 17

FLA Total Defense: 268.8 yards per game (4.4 per play); Ranked No. 10

 

OSU Scoring Offense: 36.3 points per game; Ranked No. 6

FLA Scoring Defense: 13.5 points per game; Ranked No. 6

 

OSU Sacks Allowed: 14 sacks for 95 yards; Ranked No. 10

FLA Total Sacks: 29 sacks for 207 yards; Ranked No. 49

 

OSU Third-Down Conversions: 77-of-150 (51 percent); Ranked No. 4

FLA Third-Down Conversion Defense: 60-of-177 (34 percent); Ranked No. 35

 

OSU Passes Had Intercepted: 5; Ranked No. 4

FLA Passes Intercepted: 20; Ranked No. 6

 

OSU Fumbles Lost: 11; Ranked No. 59

FLA Fumbles Recovered: 7; Ranked No. 99

 

BREAKDOWN: Ohio State may face their biggest test of the season offensively against a Florida front seven that's pretty talented, and a secondary that's not too shabby as well.

 

"They have a lot of faith in their front seven and front four," said quarterback Troy Smith. "They rely on their front four and they play a lot of man-to-man defense behind it having that faith in their guys up front that they'll put enough pressure on the quarterback or disrupt the running game."

 

Florida is especially quick on the outside. Defensive ends Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey have combined on 13.5 sacks this season. They're the quickest ends the Ohio State pass protection has faced this season.

 

Ohio State has given up just 14 sacks this season, good for No. 10 nationally, but Florida's ends will give Alex Boone and Kirk Barton their stiffest test yet.

 

Should Smith be given time to throw, expect Ohio State to take some shots downfield against Florida's man coverage, despite the fact they're expected to roll a safety over to help against OSU receiver Ted Ginn.

 

"I like pretty much any coverage because our staff does a good job of putting us in the right situation," Smith added. "They give us great situations to make plays."

 

Another challenge for Ohio State will be to run the ball against a tough Florida run defense. The Gators are No. 5 in the country against the run. The Buckeyes are coming off a game against Michigan – the No. 1 rush defense in the country, where they ran for 187 yards.

 

Antonio Pittman and backup Chris Wells have combined on over 1,700 yards rushing this season.

 

 

OHIO STATE DEFENSE vs. FLORIDA OFFENSE

 

FLA Rush Offense: 160.3 yards per game (4.8 per rush); Ranked No. 38

OSU Rush Defense: 93.5 yards per game (3.3 per rush); Ranked No. 14

 

FLA Pass Offense: 237.8 yards per game; Ranked No. 28 (No. 12 in efficiency)

OSU Pass Defense: 179.5 yards per game; Ranked No. 26 (No. 7 in efficiency)

 

FLA Total Offense: 398.1 yards per game (6.5 per play); Ranked No. 19

OSU Total Defense: 273.0 yards per game (4.6 per play); Ranked No. 11

 

FLA Scoring Offense: 28.8 points per game; Ranked No. 31

OSU Scoring Defense: 10.4 points per game; Ranked No. 1

 

FLA Sacks Allowed: 22 sacks for 159 yards; Ranked No. 44

OSU Total Sacks: 37 sacks for 271 yards; Ranked No. 6

 

FLA Third-Down Conversions: 64-of-148 (43 percent); Ranked No. 24

OSU Third-Down Conversion Defense: 48-of-157 (31 percent); Ranked No. 11

 

FLA Passes Had Intercepted: 14: Ranked No. 73

OSU Passes Intercepted: 21; Ranked No. 3

 

FLA Fumbles Lost: 10; Ranked No. 44

OSU Fumbles Recovered: 6; Ranked No. 108

 

BREAKDOWN: "Tricky," is probably the best word to describe the Florida offense. With gadgets, gimmicks, trickery and surprises, the Gators keep opponents at bay with a plethora of different looks.

 

How well prepared will Ohio State be against the gimmick offense?

 

"You said gimmick, not me," joked OSU linebacker coach Luke Fickell. "What they do – there's a rhyme and reason to everything…You've got to be assignment-sound and do your job. You're going to see something different and you understand that, but how you respond to it and how well you adapt to it is the key to playing defensive football."

 

It's probably the hardest preparation Ohio State has had for an opponent this year, studying Florida's quarterback combination of Chris Leak and Tim Tebow, as well as the trick plays with flanker Percy Harvin and Jemalle Cornelius.

 

"They probably do a little bit more than we're used to," added OSU defensive coordinator Jim Heacock. "They probably do a little bit more with their shifting and motions."

 

Although the Ohio State scoring defense remains ranked No. 1 in the country, it's coming off a game where they gave up 39 points to Michigan. They also gave up 397 yards to the Wolverines.

 

The Gators enter the game averaging nearly 400 yards a game. They've had great balance this season, ranked No. 38 in rushing and No. 28 in passing. Ohio State is hoping to get pressure on Leak and Tebow, who have been prone to interceptions with a combined 14 this season.

 

Ohio State has gotten consistent pressure on quarterbacks this season. The Buckeyes are No. 6 nationally in sacks with a total of 37 on the year.

 

The Buckeyes worked overtime to prepare for Harvin, the talented lightning-quick freshman who will run the ball as well as receive it.

 

"We probably see someone like Harvin every day in Teddy Ginn," said Fickell.

 

The Ohio State defensive staff noted that playing against Ginn helped in their preparations, although Buckeye freshman receiver Ray Small – who has drawn rave reviews in practice this season, played the role of Harvin to a T.

 

MISCELLANEOUS STATS

 

OSU Time of Possession: 31:46;

FLA Time of Possession: 30:24;

OSU Team Penalties: 57 for 514 yards (42.8 per game); Ranked No. 18

FLA Team Penalties: 110 for 838 yards (64.5 per game); Ranked No. 118

OSU Net Punting: 37.02 yards per punt; Ranked No. 25

FLA Net Punting: 38.22 yards per punt; Ranked No. 10

OSU Turnover Margin: 27 gained, 16 lost (0.92 margin per game); Ranked No. 9

FLA Turnover Margin: 27 gained; 24 lost (0.23 margin per game); Ranked No. 42

 

FINAL SUMMARY: If there's a trademark of Jim Tressel, it's been special teams play. If there's been a vulnerable spot on Florida's game this season – it's their kicking game.

 

Florida has had more than adequate special teams. The Gators have a total of seven blocked field goals, thanks to 6-6 Jarvis Moss and the rest of their freakish athletes that can jump high and jump quickly. But kicking field goals also hasn't been Florida's strong point.

 

The Gators' kicker Chris Hetland has made just 4-of-13 attempts this season with a long of 33 yards. Hetland is just 1-of-7 from 30-39 yards and often times, Florida has to get inside their opponents' 10-yard line just to feel comfortable in kicking.

 

By contrast, Ohio State's kicking game has been especially solid once again. Freshman Aaron Pettrey has filled Josh Huston's shoes admirably, connecting on 8-of-11 field goals with a long of 51 yards. He's also hit 35 touchbacks on kickoffs out of 60 kicks.

 

The punting game has been good for both teams. Ohio State ranks No. 25 in the nation in net punting under A.J. Trapasso whereas Florida is No. 10 nationally because of punter Eric Wilbur. Ohio State's punt return man Ginn is averaging 11.1 yards a return. Freshman back Brandon James is averaging 11.6 yards a punt return for Florida and 17.5 a return on kickoffs.

 

After 51 days for Ohio State and 37 days for Florida, finally the two teams can face-off for the BCS National Championship. The numbers say Ohio State, but that's about as worthless as the paper it's printed on.

 

This is why you play the game.


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