Posted by Walter
I know we need to comment on some of the happenings of college football within the past few days, but for right now there are more important things at hand. Namely the BCS Championship game tonight. Everything else must take a back seat. But not to worry, we've got an entire offseason to discuss Bobby Petrino, Steve Kragthorpe, Calvin Johnson, and Jamarcus Russell.
Florida +8 over Ohio State
I am an unabashed Steve Spurrier lover.....yet that doesn't make me a Florida fan. I am a Michigan fan......yet somehow I'm not an Ohio State hater. I am an enigma wrapped in a riddle shrouded by a conundrum. But I am taking the points for several reasons:
(1) Time - Ohio State hasn't played in nearly two months. There is bound to be some rust on them. Meanwhile, in that time Florida has tangled with Florida State and Arkansas. They are bound to be rusty as well, but probably not as badly as the Buckeyes. 8 is a pretty big number that requires a two score lead for the straight cover. If Ohio State takes a quarter or so to get into the game, that may be enough for Florida to keep it under 8.
(2) Speed - Yes we've all heard how fast the SEC is and how slow the Big 10 is. Well that ain't exactly true, but if you look at this particular matchup, the speed factor could make a difference. I concede that the Big 10 has some speedy players.....problem is that most of them play for Ohio State. This Buckeye defense, though very good, is not nearly as athletic as the AJ Hawk led unit of a year ago. Although Jim Tressell has done a masterful job of replacing Hawk, Bobby Carpenter, Donte Whitner, et al, this is the type of game where you need the speed and athleticism those players brought to the table. A guy like James Laurinaitis has been outstanding all season, but he cannot run like Hawk could. This defense may be just as effective as the '06 unit, but they aren't as athletic. Florida is by far the fastest offense they will have played this season. They've practiced against it for 2 months but there is absolutely no way to even approximate the speed of the Gators in practice.
(3) Schedules - Perhaps this bowl season has showed us a thing or two about Ohio State's schedule this year. Everyone was swooning over the Buckeye's win at home over Michigan. But how does that look now that they were wiped out by USC on a (relatively) neutral field? The Buckeye victory over Iowa in Iowa city was nice at the time, but how good does it look after they stunk up the joint for a month and then lost to Texas in the Alamo Bowl? And how about Texas? Ohio State's victory over then #2 Texas in Austin still has to be considered an elite win, but how elite after the Horns were blown out by Kansas State and then shut down at home by Texas A & M? True Penn State made the Buckeye's look good, but remember that Ohio State struggled with the Nittany Lions all game before two late picks sixes put the game out of reach. I am just saying that perhaps Ohio State's schedule looks a lot better on paper than it does in real life.
(4) History - Think about other recent BCS Title games where one team was hugely favored. I am reminded of Florida State and Oklahoma, Miamie and Ohio State, Oklahoma and LSU, USC and Texas. In all of those games the underdog (OK, Ohio State, LSU, and Texas respectively) were more than 7 point dogs, and in all three games they won outright.
So taking these four factors into consideration, what do I think will happen. Well I am tempted to say Florida will take it outright in an Oklahoma over Florida State type shocker. Problem is that the Gators have the easily rattled Chris Leak playing the role of Josh Heupel. I hope for his sake that he doesn't make a mistake that costs the Gators a national title. If anyone deserves some luck in his career it's Leak. Still, you can't teach old dogs new tricks. Leak makes a mistake, Ohio State squeaks one out. Call it 24-20.
Ohio State -8 over Florida
I just remember how Ohio St. came storming out of the gates last year against Notre Dame. Also, Tressel is simply as good as they come. He took an over-matched Ohio St. team to one title over an incredibly talented Miami squad. He's going to win this one with the better team. Florida seemed to be on the brink of blowing numerous games, and even their best wins were in games where they seemed lucky to be in it. A muffed punt by Arkansas was just the latest example, although the multiple blocked kicks against South Carolina are the most glaring example. This team made barely diverting disaster a routine. Of course there won't be many Buckeyes turnovers to rely on this time. Not with Troy Smith at the helm, and Tressel overseeing the game plan. Florida will need a complete effort from every phase, and zero mistakes. Chris Leak doesn't have it in him, and I don't know how much I'd trust Tebow in a game of this magnitude. Ohio St. was at their best when confronted with legitimate challengers, and Tressel will have his boys ready to play. I don't see any way Florida wins, and Ohio St. will not hand it to them like so many other teams did. The Buckeyes are the national champs, 37-24.