The List: Breaking down the BCS title game
Published 12:12 am Thursday, January 8, 2009
I hear there’s some kind of football game going on in Miami tonight that a moderate number of people have expressed a mild amount of interest in.
I could be wrong, but the BCS national championship game between Florida and Oklahoma may turn into a pretty big deal.
If you don’t believe me, listen to the trash talking by Oklahoma: “Anything you can do, I can do better.”
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Florida: “Yeah, well, you guys are doodie heads.”
OK, so it hasn’t exactly gone that way, but it’s clear there is no love lost. For instance, Sooners cornerback Dominique Franks called Gators quarterback Tim Tebow the fourth-best quarterback in the Big 12.
Note to Dominique, Tebow plays in the SEC. Duuuh.
What? Dominique was being sarcastic? What do you mean I should know that better than anyone? That’s it, you and me at the 50-yard line of Dolphin Stadium tonight.
Oh wait, someone else already has the place reserved. Well then, let’s see how that fight will go down …
Defense — Not really a contest here. Oklahoma ranked 62nd in the country in total defense during the regular season. Florida? A tad more respectable seventh. To their credit, the Sooners had the No. 16 run defense. But guess who was No. 15?
Offense — Oklahoma gained 80 more yards per game this season. Against mostly Big 12 defenses. Oklahoma had 140 more passing yards per game. Against mostly Big 12 defenses. Oklahoma has scored nine more points per game. Against mostly Big 12 defenses. I apologize for the repetition, but let me say this: Florida beat five top 25 teams — LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida State and Alabama — by an average of 32 points.
Special teams — This will probably decide the game, or at least be a major factor. Oklahoma is a much better kick return team, but I figure the Sooners will have to punt at least five times this game. That’s a lot of opportunities to give a guy like Brandon James, who carries a 14-yard punt return average. If he doesn’t break one for a touchdown, he’ll get very close.
But don’t count out Oklahoma’s DeMarco Murray. He’s 10th in the country with a 27.64 kick return average. If Florida does as much scoring as I think they will, he could make it an interesting game.
Turnovers — don’t expect much sloppiness. These are the top two teams in college football in turnover margin. But watch for one thing. Florida was second in the country in defensive interceptions. Sam Bradford will throw the ball a lot more than Tebow, so with a little pressure and good coverage, a “pick 6” might turn fatal for Oklahoma.
Intangibles — Four words — two Heisman Trophy winners. I’ve a feeling Tebow and Bradford will step their games up a bit. Tebow has already won a national title and knows how to deal with the hype and distractions.
Bradford is leading a team that has lost four of its last five bowl game appearances. Oklahoma lost 55-19 to USC in its last national title appearance in 2004. Double ouch.
Final score — Oklahoma will probably hang a bunch of points in the second half, so the score will look closer than the actual game. But Florida scares me, and they should scare the Sooners, too.
Florida 40, Oklahoma 27.