by CFP Staff
January 2, 2012
Florida denied Ohio State its chance to avenge the 2006 BCS title game loss to the Gators. With Florida's 24-17 Gator Bowl win on Monday, Ohio State finished a season with 7 losses for the first time in 114 years of football.
Ohio State never led and the score was only tied once, at 7-7 in the 2nd quarter. That lead was short-lived as Andre Debose returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards to put the Gators on top to stay.
The Buckeyes actually had 6 more first downs than Florida, 20-14, and outgained their counterparts 299 yards to 263. They even had fewer turnovers (3-2), but six possessions ended in punts and their two best field possession starts resulted in a field goal and a fumble.
The defeat gave Ohio State its first 7-loss season since since 1897. Florida finished 7-6 under first-year head coach Will Muschamp.
The last, and only other, meeting resulted in a 41-14 win for Florida in the BCS National Championship game at the end of the 2006 season.
Ohio State's only other appearance in a Gator Bowl was the 1978 game against Clemson in which then-Buckeyes' head coach, Woody Hayes, infamously punched Clemson nose guard Charlie Bauman. It happened after Bauman intercepted a pass and was chased out-of-bounds on the OSU sideline with Ohio State trailing 17-15 and only 2-1/2 minutes left in the game. Hayes was fired the next day in Jacksonville.
It's an interesting side note as the Buckeyes' head coaching situation is once again a story line for a Gator Bowl game. Ohio State played its entire season under interim head coach Luke Fickell after Jim Tressel was forced to resign on Memorial Day for his role in covering up the transgressions of several players who were under investigation by the NCAA. Following a 6-6 campaign, Ohio State hired the Florida head coach who defeated them in that 2006 BCS title game, Urban Meyer.
Meyer now takes the reins of a Buckeye program that will be banned from the postseason next year and must endure three years of other probation penalties from the NCAA.
The University of Cincinnati and Ohio State alumnus, and former assistant coach of Ohio State (1986-87), enjoyed brilliantly successful 2-year stints at Bowling Green (17-6, 2001-2002) and Utah (22-2, 2003-2004) before landing and Florida (65-15, 2005-2010) and winning 2 BCS titles in 6 years. He retired from the Gators after the 2010 season, citing health issues and the need to spend time with his family, but wound up working for ESPN.
Meyer brings a career record of 104-23 to Columbus and a 7-1 bowl record with the lone loss against Michigan in the 2007 Capital One Bowl. His 81.9 winning percentage tops all active coaches with a minimum 5 years on the job (source: BuckeyeGrove.com).
52.6% of CollegeFootballPoll.com voters picked Florida to win, but the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com forecasted a 2.28-point victory by Ohio State.