What started out so promising turned out so disastrous.
Florida stifled Ohio State all night long en route to a 41-14 victory over the Buckeyes for their second National Championship in school history. Ohio State managed a pedestrian 82 yards of total offense as Smith was having a hard time eluding the Gator pass rush.
Ohio State (12-1) saw Florida score three touchdowns in three consecutive possessions following the Ginn kick return. After the Gators led 21-7, the Buckeyes put together a 4-play 65-yard drive to begin the second quarter and get the game to within a touchdown.
The Gators answered with 9:04 with a 43-yard field goal, but on the ensuing possession, Ohio State attempted a 4th-and-1 from their own 29-yard line that came up short, turning the ball back over to Florida. Although the Ohio State held the Gators to a field goal, extending the Florida lead to 27-14, a fumble with just over a minute left in the half allowed Florida another touchdown, taking a 34-14 lead into the locker room.
The Buckeyes were unable to counter in the second half.
Although the Ohio State defense held Florida to just over 140 yards in the second half, the Buckeyes never answered the Florida pressure. Ohio State managed less than 30 yards in their own right.
Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith struggled on the evening, passing for just 35 yards on 4-of-14 passing and had a worse evening rushing with minus 29 yards on 10 attempts. It was the first BCS loss of the Jim Tressel era, who previously was 3-0 - all in the Fiesta Bowl.
It was a bitter final game for Smith, who lost for just the third time in his career as a starter at Ohio State. It was also possibly the final game for Ohio State juniors Antonio Pittman, Anthony Gonzalez and Ginn - who left the game with a sprained foot on the possession following his long kick return.
As Ginn never returned for the Buckeyes, he had to helplessly glance at the scoreboard which favored the Gators nearly the entire way. Junior tackle Kirk Barton already made the decision to return to Ohio State for his senior season, but unless the other three juniors have a change of heart, it appears they will be unable to avenge the humiliating defeat.
Pittman was a temporary bright spot when he got a chance, rushing for 62 yards on just nine carries. Gonzalez was the leading receiver for Ohio State with two catches for just 11 yards.
Senior quarterback Chris Leak, the embattled Gator star, had a going-out party passing for 212 yards and a touchdown on 25-of-36 passing. Leak had to share the quarterback duties with freshman Tim Tebow all year long but still managed to break the Florida all-time passing record with more than 11,000 yards.
Cincinnati native Deshawn Wynn rushed for 70 yards for the Gators, while Tebow added 40 yards. Freshman Percy Harvin had nine receptions for 59 yards.
Florida coach Urban Meyer, an Ohio native who coached as a graduate assistant for the Buckeyes under Earle Bruce, improved to 2-0 in bowls with the Gators. Monday night was the most points given up by Ohio State since Nov. 13, 1999.