Gators Get SEC's Third Straight BCS Title
by Mike Mitchell
January 8, 2009
Good things come in threes.
Florida beat Oklahoma 24-14 for its third national title. The win gave the SEC a third consecutive national title, and raised the league's record to 5-0 in BCS Championship games. The Gators (13-1) are also the third straight team to win the national championship without being undefeated, the longest streak in history.
Never before have more than two consecutive seasons gone by without an undefeated champ, and the last time that occurred was 1982-1983. Miami and Georgia Tech each had one loss in 1989-1990, but an undefeated Colorado split the 1990 title with the Yellow Jackets.
Percy Harvin paced Florida with 171 total yards. Harvin rushed 9 times for 121 yards and a touchdown, and caught 5 passes for 50 yards.
Tim Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, completed 18-of-30 throws for 232 yards with 2 TD's and 2 INT's.
Sam Bradford, this year's Heisman winner, was 26-of-41 for 257 yards. He matched Tebow's 2 TD's and 2 INT's.
Tebow and Bradford are the first sophomores to win the Heisman Trophy, and they did so in back-to-back years.
It was clear from the beginning that the anticipated offensive shootout was not going to materialize. Though the Sooners and Gators entered the game averaging 54 and 45 points, respectively, the game was scoreless through the first 15:58, and it was just 7-7 at halftime.
Oklahoma left at least 6 points on the field in the second quarter, and perhaps 14, when it twice drove inside the Gators' 10-yard line and came away empty. With 5:30 left in the half, Florida stuffed Chris Brown for a 2-yard loss on 4th-and-goal from the 1. Brown carried six consecutive times after DT Gerald McCoy intercepted Tebow at the Florida 26-yard line. A field goal would have given Oklahoma a 10-7 lead.
Just before halftime, the Sooners marched to the Florida 6 before Bradford was picked off by Major Wright at the 3-yard line on a pass that pinballed between intended receiver Manuel Johnson and 3 Gator defenders before Wright secured the ball.
Bradford's second interception was the door-closer. Trailing 17-14, the Sooners had driven to midfield in three plays. But on 2nd-and-7, Bradford threw a good pass over the middle to Juaquin Iglesias who bobbled the ball just enough for Ahmad Black to steal it. Florida then marched 76 yards in 11 plays to take a 24-14 lead with just 3:07 left. The Sooners turned the ball over on downs on their next possession and Florida ran out the clock.
Absent DeMarco Murray, the Oklahoma ground attack was left entirely to Brown who gained 109 yards on 22 carries.
Tight end Jermaine Gresham had 8 catches for 62 yards and both Sooner touchdowns. Iglesias had just 5 receptions for 59 yards.
Overall, the Sooner offense was held to 363 yards, 72 yards below its lowest output of the season. Oklahoma entered the game ranked 3rd nationally in total offense with an average of 562.1 yards per game. The Sooners ranked 1st in scoring offense and were kept 40 points under their average.
Florida managed 479 yards with 232 passing and 247 rushing. Tebow added 108 ground yards for 340 yards in total offense. The Gators entered the game ranked 17th in total offense and topped their average of 442.4 yards per game. Florida ranked 3rd in scoring offense and was held 21 points under its average.
The loss was the fifth straight for Oklahoma in a BCS bowl game, and head coach Bob Stoops is now 1-3 in BCS title games.
Conversely, Florida head coach Urban Meyer is 2-0 in BCS title games, and 3-0 in BCS bowl games including his win with Utah over Pitt in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl.
Speaking of threes, Florida's second title in three years came in Tebow's third year at the school.