Seventh Day Adventure
Football Outsiders' weekly preview for people who like their football played on Saturdays

SDA's BCS Championship Preview

by Vinny Gauri and Russell Levine

Russell: Well it comes down to this, Vin. The longest bowl season in history is finally at its conclusion. I don't know about this playing the title game on January 8. The lull since the Sugar Bowl has killed some of the excitement for me. But what a Sugar Bowl that was!

Vinny: Ah yes, good ol' schadenfreude. Come on, Russ -- you're better than that!

Russell: Clearly, I'm not. I don't pretend that it's healthy, but I might have taken more pleasure from Notre Dame's loss than I did disappointment from Michigan's. As Orson Swindle of Every Day Should Be Saturday told me, "the Sugar Bowl is definitely the foie gras for you." Speaking of Orson, be sure to check out this week's podcast as the Florida blogger and I discuss the title game, Nick Saban, the bowl season, and whether or not God cares about the point spread. Really.

Vinny: Well, I'm not sure if it hurts any less to be crushed by superior talent (as ND was by LSU) as opposed to being badly out-coached (as Michigan was by USC). Of course, Charlie Weis can never be out-coached, can he?

Russell: No, he makes his adjustments on the fly. Obviously the first game in Glendale, Monday's Fiesta Bowl, was the game of the bowl season thus far. What an unbelievable performance by Boise State, rallying from a crushing pick-six thrown by Jared Zabransky with three trick plays to beat Oklahoma in overtime. But does that game mean we need a playoff, or would a playoff ruin the story if Boise just went on to lose the following week? I think people may be overlooking the former.

Vinny: The Fiesta was the best finish to a college game in recent memory. It's not often I agree with Lou Holtz, but the Broncos were the best-prepared bowl team I have ever seen (making the Michigan staff's cluelessness in the second half of the Rose all the more painful). How much money did Chris Petersen make for himself last week? Whether it's next week or years from now, he can plunk down that game tape on any athletic director's desk and inspire Pavlov-like drooling.

Tostitos BCS National Championship (at Glendale, Ariz.)
#1 Ohio State (12-0) (-7.5) vs. #2 Florida (12-1), Monday, 8 p.m. ET, FOX

Russell: We're going to try to do this in a somewhat orderly fashion, breaking down the matchups and then getting to our picks. Let's get to it.

Ohio State Offense vs. Florida Defense

Russell: This is the strength-on-strength matchup in this game. Can Florida contain the Buckeyes and Troy Smith, particularly when they go five-wide and spread the field as they did to great success against Michigan? That could be the key to the game.

Vinny: The secondary was a clear weakness for the Wolverines, whereas Florida is solid with Utah transfer Ryan Smith (eight picks) and the rest of its secondary. Florida's defense doesn't appear to have a real weakness (fifth in pass-efficiency defense, sixth in rushing defense). Defensive end Derrick Harvey and linebacker Brandon Siler have been all over the field. But Arkansas did have some success spreading the field and using misdirection out of their Wildcat formation against the Gators.

Russell: Looking back to the Ohio State-Michigan game one more time, the biggest concern for the Gators has to be that Ohio State neutralized a great Michigan pass rush not necessarily by stifling it with the offensive line, but by using a variety of three-step drops and relying on Smith to make the right read, which he did nearly every single time.

Vinny: Jim Tressel will try to mix in expert fundraisers Antonio Pittman and Chris "Beanie" Wells, hoping to hit a few big gains. Only Auburn was able to run the ball with effectiveness against Florida this year, and star defensive tackle Marcus Thomas played well in that loss. Florida hasn't missed a beat since Thomas was kicked off the team in early November.

Russell: You can argue that Florida's defense is faster than Michigan's, particularly at linebacker and safety (hello, Reggie Nelson!), and should have better success containing the spread. But if Smith is on his game as he always seems to be in big spots, I'm not sure how much Florida's speed matters. I don't expect Ohio State to score 42 points, but they'll have plenty of success and hit some big plays against the blitz to Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez.

Vinny: I think the Buckeyes' depth at wide receiver will again prove huge in this game. The Gators will be hard pressed to match up their nickel and dime packages against Brian Robiskie and Roy Hall in addition to the Buckeyes' headliners.

Florida Offense vs. Ohio State Defense

Russell: If Florida is going to win the national title, I think it will have to be because its offense outplays the Ohio State defense. I don't see this as a low-scoring game, so Chris Leak & Co. must produce points and take care of the football. Chris, please, no shovel passes intercepted and returned for TDs, OK?

Vinny: You hit on the wild card for the game: which Leak will show up? Every quarterback has an off day now and then, but Leak tends to the extremes. He can look like an accomplished surgeon or like Dr. Nick Riviera. And he might be the most scrutinized and embattled -- at least within his own fan base -- quarterback since Chrix Rix or John Navarre. Yes, he's had to adjust to different philosophies and coordinators through his career, but that hasn't pacified the Florida faithful.

Russell: We also know we're going to get some trickeration out of Urban Meyer. Maybe not as impressive as Boise State in overtime, but trickeration nonetheless. Receiver passes. Leak throwing the ball to Tim Tebow. Something along those lines. Ohio State's defense is very athletic and has played beyond expectations this year, but it can be fooled. The Buckeyes have the horses to slow down Dallas Baker and Andre Caldwell if Florida plays things straight-up.

Vinny: In the absence of a consistent running game, Meyer has used the razzle-dazzle maybe even more than he wanted. But for the first time in months, senior tailback DeShawn Wynn is reportedly healthy. That could take some of the pressure off of Leak. And the Buckeyes won't be able to key on the versatile Percy Harvin quite as much.

Russell: I think Florida would be wise to pass to set up the run, much as Michigan did in the second half to great success against the Buckeyes. I hate to keep going back to that game, but it's one of two Ohio State played against (ahem) elite teams this year and is a valuable comparison tool. If Leak avoids those one or two killer mistakes that always seem to plague him, and Harvin gets off for a big score or two, Florida has a chance.

Vinny: Linebacker James Laurinaitis got most of the ink (and the Nagurski Award) for the Ohio State defense. There's no question he's a great athlete, but he's much better in pursuit than coming off play-side blocks. The Buckeyes defensive front (Vernon Gholston, Quinn Pitcock, Jay Richardson) is much better than advertised, especially in the pass rush. Wynn needs to have a good day for the Gators to have a chance.

Coaching

Russell: I've been impressed with the job Meyer has done this year. It's not easy to work a freshman quarterback (Tebow) into the lineup at the expense of a senior and not fracture the team, but he's done it. It seemed like a year ago, Meyer was determined to prove his offense could work in the SEC, but this season he has made the adjustments without scrapping his philosophy. The Gators aren't explosive by any means, but they don't look like an outmanned team running a gimmick attack, either.

Vinny: It took him a while, but Meyer seems to have realized that Leak isn't comfortable with the speed option plays that Alex Smith ran so well at Utah. His best move may have been keeping on Charlie Strong as defensive coordinator after [NAME REDACTED] was shown the door.

Russell: And don't forget about co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, a name that should ring a bell for Michigan fans. Senator Tressel, of course, has nothing to prove here. He's got the national title that Meyer wants, and he's won five of six against Michigan. He's also won three Fiesta Bowls. Even though this isn't the Fiesta, and it's at a new stadium, he'll feel right at home in the desert.

Vinny: His record in big games is ridiculous. And nobody is better at tailoring a game plan to his team's strengths and his opponent's weaknesses.

Russell: Meyer coaches with a chip on his shoulder, and I think you see that in his decision-making at times. I'm thinking specifically of the fake punt deep in his own territory against Arkansas. I don't think he'd be wise to make another call like that against Ohio State. Florida is good enough to win this game without taking huge chances.

Special Teams/Intangibles

Russell: Considering the overall strength of the two teams, it's surprising that neither excels in special teams. Both excel in kick coverage and neither has explosive return games overall. Ohio State kicker Aaron Pettrey has attempted just 11 field goals on the year, making eight, but that's a dream season compared to Florida's Chris Hetland, who was a miserable 4-of-13 this season.

Vinny: Things will definitely get interesting if it comes down to placekicking. Florida was good enough to survive against Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida State while Hetland struggled (0-for-6 combined in those games), but probably not this time.

Russell: One area where Florida needs to show some more discipline is penalties. The Gators were the second-most penalized team in America and lost 65 yards per game to yellow flags -- 22 yards more than Ohio State's average. The underdog can't afford to be undisciplined as well.

Vinny: In the return game, Ginn has remained a threat while playing through a foot injury. Freshman Brandon James has flashed big-play ability on returns for the Gators.

Russell: Ohio State is better in both converting third downs and in preventing third-down conversions. If that holds, it means added snaps for the Ohio State offense. Florida is going to have to come up with a turnover or two to stay in the game -- much as Michigan's plus-three turnover margin in the second half allowed it to fight back in a game in which it was being dominated.

Vinny: Dominated? I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that.

Russell: Consider it a make-good for the Sugar Bowl remark.

The Picks

Russell: I've backed off my anger-driven "Ohio State is going to destroy Florida" pick of December 3, but I still don't see where much in this game favors Florida. Nothing that has happened in the bowl season thus far tells me that Ohio State's results vs. a Big Ten schedule mean less than Florida's vs. the SEC. The Big Ten's best teams are just as good as the SEC's.

Vinny: No argument on that front. Some are making comparisons between Florida and Tressel's 2002 squad that was counted out against defending champ Miami in the Fiesta Bowl. But this Florida team has even more talent (and fewer psychopaths) on offense.

Russell: Florida may be more battle-tested, but I don't think it matters. Ohio State played in plenty of big games in calendar 2006 -- including last year's Fiesta Bowl -- and always gave a good account of itself. This will be a game for a half, but Ohio State will capitalize on turnovers in the second half to win it going away. I like the Buckeyes to cover.

Vinny: I've come around to thinking Florida will make this a game. This is the best defense Troy Smith will have ever faced. As great (and robotic) as he is, the Gators secondary can pose some problems. I think Wynn is the key -- the Buckeye defense can be had if they're kept off-balance. I'll take the Gators and the points.

Bonus SDA Podcast

Thanks to Orson Swindle of Every Day Should Be Saturday for joining Russell for this week's podcast.

You can listen online by clicking the play button below, or download the podcast for later by clicking the MP3 icon beneath the player. Past episodes can be found by clicking the "Posts" button. To automatically receive future episodes through iTunes, click the "Subscribe Free" link.


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The Picks
(* - "Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week")
Picks of other BCS games included for reference
Favorite Spread Underdog Vinny Says Russell Says
Rose Bowl (Pasadena), Monday, January 2
USC -1 Michigan Michigan Michigan
 
Fiesta Bowl (Glendale), Monday, January 1
Oklahoma -7 Boise State Boise State Oklahoma
 
Orange Bowl (Miami), Tuesday, January 2
Louisville -10 Wake Forest Louisville* Louisville*
 
Sugar Bowl (New Orleans), Wednesday, January 3
LSU -9 Notre Dame LSU LSU
BCS National Championship (Glendale)
Monday, January 8, 8 p.m. ET FOX
Ohio State -7.5 Florida Florida Ohio State
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
NOTE: "Last Week" refers to the Non-BCS bowls picks column.
  Last Week* Season Total
Vinny 6-9-0 (0-1-0) 72-66-1 (10-6-0)
Russell 6-9-0 (0-1-0) 78-60-1 (9-7-0)

Comments

312 comments, Last at 12 Jan 2007, 11:57am

1 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Florida really struggles on offense...you cant win if you cant score...27-14 OSU

2 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

It looks like Bobby Petrino has finally found a job he couldn't say no to. He's agreed to become the next coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

Personally, I'm upset because jokes about Petrino and his real-estate agent were my bread and butter.

Who does Louisville get? Jim Mora's available, though he could always ditch them to take the U of Washington job.

3 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

I don't think the problem with Leak is so much Good Leak v. Bad Leak, it's that he's Chris Leak. And what Chris Leak does is make 2-4 bonehead passes a game, every game. If tOSU can convert a couple of those into interceptions, this could be a long night for the Gator faithful.

As a tOSU fan, I have faith in Tressel's ability to (i) come up with a superb gameplan and (ii) bog down in scoring range, as in last year's Fiesta Bowl. But, Troy Smith and the WRs corps plus the Akron twosome give me confidence enough. 38-20 Buckeyes is homer-ish, but wouldn't surprise me.

4 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Re: 2
Louisville is screwed. They need to just stay in house with this one, or else look into prying Boise's coach away...don't know if that one is possible.

Re: Championship
Florida fan and I can't wait to see our D vs that O. I feel a low scoring, penalty filled game coming on, and coming down to a kick--UF 24, OSU 23

5 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

I think this will be a much better game than most think. One aspect that is being highly overlooked is the fact that Florida's offense (specifically, the O-line, Wynn, Harvin & Caldwell) will be healthy for the first time since the LSU game (Oct 7). Many people see Florida's offensive struggles during the 2nd hald and think their offense sucks. Leak will make his mistakes, but beyond that, the offense struggled in the 2nd half of the season mainly b/c of injuries.

It will be exciting to watch Troy Smith, Ginn, Gonzalez, et al, face the Florida secondary. This will be BY FAR the fastest secondary Ohio St has faced all season. I think Florida can contain (not shut down, but contain) Ohio St's passing attack, but I don't think Florida will be able to stop the Buckeyes running game. I think this will be the first time since he was kicked off the team in early November that Florida truly misses DT Marcus Thomas.

I see a close first half, but I think Ohio St is just too good and will pull away in the 2nd half by tiring out the Gator D with their running game. I see the final score as 31-17, but I think the game is closer than the final score may indicate. And that's coming from a Gator...

6 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Considering the overall strength of the two teams, it’s surprising that neither excels in special teams. Both excel in kick coverage and neither has explosive return games overall. Ohio State kicker Aaron Pettrey has attempted just 11 field goals on the year, making eight, but that’s a dream season compared to Florida’s Chris Hetland, who was a miserable 4-of-13 this season.

Outside of placekicking, Florida's special teams have been outstanding this season. They set a school record for blocked kicks, they recovered several turnovers off of punts (including the one for a TD against Arkansas), and the only thing capable of stopping Brandon James since he won the return job at midseason has been the yellow hanky (he's had literally 6 return TDs in the latter half of the season, but 5 of them were negated by penalties- and at least 3 of those penalties were incidental fouls away from contact). I think if Florida's going to win, its special teams are going to play a huge part.

One area where Florida needs to show some more discipline is penalties. The Gators were the second-most penalized team in America and lost 65 yards per game to yellow flags — 22 yards more than Ohio State’s average. The underdog can’t afford to be undisciplined as well.

Have you forgotten FO's own research showing a slightly NEGATIVE correlation between penalties and wins? Penalties aren't always the result of undisciplined play- sometimes they're the result of aggressive play. If a player jumps before the snap twice, and is once whistled offsides and the other time it isn't called and he gets a 6 yard sack, that's better than if he never jumped before the snap, was caught unprepared, and got overpowered by an offensive lineman who came out of the blocks quicker. Likewise, often taking a holding penalty is far better than allowing a sack, since you keep the down.

Florida really struggles on offense…you cant win if you cant score…27-14 OSU
Florida has the 21st ranked offense in college football in yards per game, with 410.3. Ohio State? 15th, with 417.7. They faced a pretty tough schedule of defenses, too. I see a lot of people talking about how Florida struggles on offense, but really they don't- or rather, Florida's "struggles" are still better than 90% of the nation's "successes". They aren't the most standard offense on the planet, but the Gators can move the ball very well, and they possess a ton of quick-strike capabilities. Really, the largest criticism of the offense has to be one of inconsistancy rather than mediocrity.

Also, I'm a biased Florida homer, but if I were gambling on this game, I'd take the points. I remember the last several national championship games with large spreads. Everyone mentions Ohio State vs. Miami, but they seem to forget that as recently as last year, people were asking of Texas even had a chance in hell, and ESPN was running a series on where that year's Trojans ranked among the best teams in the history of college football (oops).

7 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Re: 6

Good points all. And it's not just 2002. Six of eight BCS title game underdogs have won outright.

8 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

I watched both guys play a lot of games this year and still can't figure out how Laurinatis was awarded anything over Posluszny of Penn State. I am sure there are many other deserving players as well but these guys played in the same conference and right next door to one another. I really don't understand how any set of voters could examine the two and believe that L was better then P.

Posluszny may not have some of the flashy states (like interceptions) but the guy was a friggin' missile in the middle of the field.

Had to write that. I now return you to your championship game chatter.

9 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Most of the underdogs that have won the BCS National Championship Game were undefeated and didn't require the help of voters/ other teams losing to get in. I believe the most similar situation would be the 2001 BCS title game with #1 Miami playing #3? Nebraska, and we know who won that.

10 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

7: Maybe I'm crazy, or Wikipedia is wrong, but in every year but 2002 (OSU over Miami) and 2006 (Texas over USC) the higher ranked team has won. Were the lines really not in favor of the #1 team in the other years?

Oh, and maybe it's my non-homerish tendencies (thus rooting for a good game), but I think it'll be high scoring, maybe 34-31 OSU.

11 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Re 10:
In 2000, #1 Oklahoma beat #2 FSU, however, I believe FSU was actually favored.

In 2002, #2 Ohio St beat #1 Miami

In 2003, #2 LSU beat #1 Oklahoma

In 2005, #2 Texas beat #1 USC.

(all rankings are BCS rankings)

12 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

NewsToTom: I think you nailed it on the head. I believe Chris Leak has finally gotten over his worry about hearing footsteps (which he had ever since his Freshman year matchup agaisnt FSU). He does not seem to have a problem making the right call or making the right read.

I remember hearing a commentator praising Chris Leak's accuracy. However, Chris Leak seems to misfire a handfull of times and misses wide-open receivers. When these are interceptions the Gators tend to struggle. I did like how Chris Leak ran with authority on the Touchdown against Arkansas.

The second half performances by the Gators have not seemed to be as good as I would expect, so I believe that the Florida coaching staff is not as good as Ohio State. Part of this may be their defensive line tiring out, especially after losing Marcus Thomas. I believe that most of it, however, is predictable coaching and lack of 2nd half adjustments.

I think that if you watch the Gators' secondary you will see that they give a 5-10 yard cushion to at least 1 receiver every down. If Smith chooses to take a 3-step drop he can have 5-10 yards on every play and more if the receiver breaks a tackle. I feel that the defense has not been as well coached under Charlie Strong as it was coached under Stoops. Fortunately for the Gators, only Auburn was willing to fire 5 yard passes all day.

13 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Re #9: Most of the underdogs that have won the BCS National Championship Game were undefeated and didn’t require the help of voters/ other teams losing to get in. I believe the most similar situation would be the 2001 BCS title game with #1 Miami playing #3? Nebraska, and we know who won that.

I'm not sure I buy into the mystic "undefeated" stuff on a site like Football Outsiders that recognizes just how huge of a role luck plays in college football. Ohio State in 2002 could have very easily been a 1-loss or even a 2-loss team- all it would take would be for one incredibly lucky break that went their way to instead go against them (sort of like Florida's punter dropping the ball against Auburn). If they were a 1-loss team, would they have suddenly been incapable of beating Miami?

Florida is about as big of an underdog as Ohio State was and as Texas was last year. Now, just because those two teams won doesn't mean that Florida is *LIKELY* to win- they are still, after all, an underdog. It just shows that it's a lot more possible for Florida to win than a lot of people are acknowledging.

14 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Russell, did you mean that people may be overlooking the latter (that some of the Broncos' luster might diminish if they'd lost their next playoff game, rather than simply winning their bowl game) rather than the former?

I suppose it's possible, but it doesn't seem to bother hoops fans much, and of course, if Boise went on to win the next game as well ...

fourth, I'm not so sure that would help Louisville that much. The last two schools to lure Boise State head coaches didn't get quite what they wanted out of it, although to be fair, ASU did have a couple of good season under Koetter, and Hawkins might need more than a couple of seasons to fix Colorado.

15 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

13: Florida could just as easily have another one if not two more losses if you want "luck" to enter the equation. Blocked FG? come on.
Look at the history of one-loss teams playing undefeated teams in the BCS title game, especially when the undefeated team was the clear-cut favorite, and the one-loss team was picked amid controversy (aka used the back door to get in).
2001:Oklahoma easily beats FSU
2002: Miami smears Nebraska

Texas and Ohio State were both undefeated when they scored their upsets. I think it says alot the the underdogs that have won the BCS have had an equal number of losses as the favorite.

16 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Oklahoma "easily" beats FSU? The score was 13-2, and OU's TD was set up by a pick. Also, someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm 80% certain that FSU was the favorite in that game, even though they were ranked #2.

17 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Re: 16

Florida State was an 11 point favorite that year against Oklahoma. Other BCS title games:

Jan. 4, 2006 Rose Bowl-Texas 41, Southern Cal 38
-Southern Cal by 7 (lost, didn't cover)

Jan. 1, 2005 Orange Bowl-Southern Cal 55, Oklahoma 19
-Southern Cal by 1 (won, covered)

Jan. 4, 2004 Sugar Bowl-LSU 21, Oklahoma 14
-Oklahoma by 6-1/2 (lost, didn't cover)

Jan. 3, 2003 Fiesta Bowl-Ohio St. 31, Miami 24, 2OT
-Miami by 12 (lost, didn't cover)

Jan. 3, 2002 Rose Bowl-Miami 37, Nebraska 14
-Miami by 8-1/2 (won, covered)

Jan. 3, 2001 Orange Bowl-Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2
-Florida State by 11 (lost, didn't cover)

Jan. 4, 2000 Sugar Bowl-Florida St. 46, Virginia Tech 29
-Florida State by 5-1/2 (won, covered)

Jan. 4, 1999 Fiesta Bowl-Tennessee 23, Florida St. 16
-Florida State by 5-1/2 (lost, didn't cover)

19 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

The Nebraska-UF comparison doesn't really hold up to the light of day. UF lost a very close game that looks worse because of a literally last-minute field goal followed by a defensive score; Nebraska was simply destroyed. There was plenty of controversy about the selection this year, but most people agreed it was a close choice, and the only other contender for the spot cleared things up retroactively by getting thrashed in their bowl game; I don't think anyone felt Nebraska was the right choice that year, and one of the jilted contenders (Oregon) won their bowl game handily and finished a solid #2.

20 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

SEE? DO YOU SEE? THAT WAS NO CLIP. Dammit all to hell. I'm going to go stick my head in the oven.

No, I'm going to watch that clip of of Romo fumbling and pee myself laughing again.

21 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Sure it was a clip! If I admit that that wasn't a clip, I might also have to start considering whether Rumeal Robinson was actually fouled in '89.

One good thing about Fox's BCS coverage: showing both marching bands.

I cringed when I saw Emmitt Smith and Edddie George on the set tonight, but they were actually decent, and they were falling all over each other to complement's the other's team. Anti-homers. Weird.

22 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

FYI, the FO IRC chatroom normally in use on Sundays is available for chatting. Bendenwyr.dyndns.org, channel #FO, or look in an Open Discussion. I'll be hanging out in there until my laptop battery dies.

30 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Ohio State's #8 looks like he grabbed someone from behind by the horse collar for a brief second there.

31 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

I guess they're not going to call that hold on #8? YET NOTRE DAME WAS VICTIMIZED BY A PHANTOM CLIP! No justice, no peace!

32 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Wow. A Pac-10 officiating crew. And one wonders why no penalty was called?

This is going to be great. Pac-10 crew. Oh yes.

34 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

That Ginn TD to open was one of the reasons I don't understand why teams defer to the 2nd half. Wouldn't you want to set the tone early with a big play? Tough to do that if you're on defense.

36 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Re: 29, watching Ginn's KO return -- you're right, that was a blatant hold on Roy Hall (#8).

37 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

#34,
Iowa doesn't defer to the second half, instead choosing to start the game with the ball (which they do in almost every game). Didn't work out too well this year though since they never scored on the opening drive.

38 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Does anyone know of a way of watching this game over the internet?

Or somewhere in Malaysia that is showing the game?

39 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Interesting to see the early QB draw for Smith on 2nd down. OSU hasn't done much of that this year. And now the sack by Harvey.

40 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

You can listen to it on Foxsports.com. May be able to watch it via one of the schools' web sites.

41 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

two personal fouls by ohio state, and we're not even halfway through the first quarter.

43 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Nice recovery by Florida after the Ginn return. Drive for a tying TD and then force a punt. We may even get to see OSU trailing early as Meyer wanted...

46 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

OK guys, that's ridiculous - it's the national title game, perhaps, Fox, you should brief your guys on what the coaches challenge rules are?

51 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Sad thing is, Alvarez is only one year removed from the sidelines and is still the AD at Wisconsin. So he should probably know the replay rules, even if they were tweaked before this season.

52 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Agreed. To have the people in the booth (Alvarez of all people) to be wrong on how a coaches challenge works is inexcusable. It's only the national title game.

Ginn is heading to the locker room - and here we have a Florida player down too. Injuries galore.

55 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

If any of you are near Wilmington, NC, could you call an ambulance for my father-in-law? I'm afraid his heart just exploded. Thanks.

58 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Okay, I'm a SEC fan so I don't watch much Big 10 football. Does Ohio State play defense?

59 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

It looks like the opening kickoff was the worst thing that could have happened .... to Ohio State. They must have thought "we're going to kill these guys" and have been flat ever since.

This looks like the 2nd half of the Rose Bowl.

60 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

That was a cool formation. What do you call it? A triple I formation or something? I have the announcers on mute.

61 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Okay, I thought Florida had a good chance to win tonight, but this is ridiculous. Florida's lines are dominating on both offense and defense.

62 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Russell,
This reminds me of the USC-Iowa Orange Bowl from 2003. Iowa's C.J. Jones took the opening kickoff back 100 yards for a TD...and the Hawkeyes ended up losing 38-17 to Carson Palmer's team.

64 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

That was kind of a ticky tack call, but given the way the NFL is calling roughing the passer, college referees are going to call it the same way. At the same time, the player that hit Smith was in no way "committed" to that hit.

66 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

So much for defense...21-14.

By the way, I wonder if Ginn hurt himself on the celebration after the opening TD. He seemed to stay down for a while in the endzone after his teammates piled on.

67 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Signs of life from the Buckeyes offense to discourage people from turning the game off just yet.

68 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

navin nailed it - the big difference so far has been line play. OSU hasn't blocked well until this last drive, and they haven't gotten any pressure (plus they've been tipping their blitzes horribly). Yet every lazy analyst out there (read: pretty much every analyst) will attribute it to speed. Whatever.

I thought the roughing call was a little weak. It was a little late; maybe if he didn't extend the forearm like that he'd have been OK. Who am I kidding; you breathe on the QB now, it's 15 yards.

As for OSU's defense, this year they've been a team that's average at most things, but has gotten a lot of turnovers. If you take care of the ball on them (as Michigan did, and Florida has), you can rack up the yards and points. They really need to get a free blitzer to force a turnover or something soon.

69 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Hey, OSU. When it's 3rd-and-short? You shouldn't drop into zones behind the first down line. Just a thought.

70 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

on a 2nd and 10 earlier, the play clock ran out well before the ball was snapped to Leak.

71 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Troy Smith did a good job using his scrambling ability to neutralize Florida's pressure on Ohio State's last drive. We'll see if he can do it again on OSU's next drive. Also, Ohio State's secondary looks pretty weak so far.

72 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

It's like they're playing the Giants/Bills or Patriots/Rams defense - just trying to prevent the big play, letting them get short ones and trying to punish the receivers, betting that eventually they'll make mistakes or break down physically. That sure works a lot better when they don't have 92 guys to rotate in, and you actually get some pressure on the quarterback, though.

73 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

That plan also works a lot better if you can get an early incompletion and force 3rd and 10 instead of 3rd and 4 all the time.

Like here. Good play, even if he caught it he was a few yards short. And finally we see if Florida has a punter.

74 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

68,

Trogdor -- the difference b/w the two defensive lines is that Florida's is a whole lot faster. That has been the difference in Florida getting to Smith. Did you notice that Smith rolled away from pressure expecting to get away from the pass rusher only to be chased down?

When people talk about the speed difference b/w Big Ten and SEC, the lazy and the stupid think that it is about the skill positions. It's not (at least not much). It's the D line and LBs.

75 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

72 - Oddly enough, a drive with two straight pressures by Gholston (right up the middle) forces a punt. Imagine that.

76 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Jarvis Moss is a freak. He pretty much got Florida into this game by blocking a couple South Carolina kicks.

77 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

OK, how do you not even attempt to block #94 coming off the edge? Ugh.

But for those worrying about arm strength, Smith threw that one through a two-arm deflection at about two feet, and had plenty of zip when it went to the sidelines! (this is the slap-happy mood I get into during games like this, where everything I was worried about is coming true)

78 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Leak has been very efficient so far. All these Tebow plays are actually hurting Florida. I hope they're trying to set something else up instead of just trying to get him some experience. Just let Leak run the offense.

79 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Navin,
Great point about Tebow.

I wonder if Leak will make the big mistake everyone expects from him at some point.

80 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

OK, so... as bad as everything has gone, they're only down 10 with plenty of time to get a score before the half. If they can go in down only 3 or 7, things are looking alright.

81 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

That's always the scare with Leak--the dumb throw. I thought he was close a couple times, but he has done the smart thing and thrown it away. I wonder if the coaching staff drilled him on this over the past two months.

OH MY, OSU goes for it deep in their own territory and fails!

82 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Tremendous spotting job by the official. First running a half yard beyond the 30, then changing his mind and running back in.

Oh, you have to review this! Not that it'll matter, PAC-10 and all. The ball came down on the 30!

83 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

I'm shocked that there was no measurement there. 4th and a foot or so, and it certainly looked like he got close. But no review, no measurement.

Quite the officiating crew here.

85 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

They don't need to measure. On a touchback you have to make the 30 yard line. You definitely could argue that it should hav been reviewed by the replay booth.

86 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

For all the things they reviewed this year that weren't even close, and they don't even take a look at that?

88 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

That was a tremendous push Florida got. But my goodness, he came down over the pile and the ball clearly landed on the 30 yardline. Since it was a touchback on the kickoff, if any of the ball touches the 30 it's a first down. How... no, nevermind. I just can't.

89 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Florida's FG kicker is halfway to his regular season total in this half alone.

Wow.

I'd feel lucky to be down only 13 if I were an OSU fan.

91 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Leak is showing his whole game. When he was rolling and not worried about pressure, he was perfect. He got hit a little and now he can't get rid of it soon enough. The moment he sees even a little pressure, he's unloading it.

93 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Um. Wow.

I'm still in shock that they didn't review that spot on the 4th down play, and that the referees so immediately ruled it a turnover on downs.

Then a field goal, then a Smith fumble. A touchdown here, and, well, wow.

95 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

93,

The Ohio St coaches had a great look at the 4th down run. They were right there to see it.

They didn't challenge the call.

97 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

I bet Jim Tressel is wishing he voted Michigan #2 in the final coaches' poll right now.

98 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

As an SEC fan I think that the 4th down play probably should have been reviewed, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have been overturned.

Also, I'm surprised Tebow threw that TD in--dangerous throw--it's the type of throw that gets returned for 6.

99 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

That painting depicts something like an entire month. I like the dragon too. Bruce Campbell is god.

100 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Ohio State only played one good offense all season and was torn apart (Texas offense did not quite hit their mark yet when Ohio State played them) and the rest of the Big 10 offense was average at best.

But still I thought Ohio State would be playing better.

Troy Smith/Chris Leak: which midget QB do you want to draft?

102 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

95 -- more on the 4th down spot

If there was even the slightest chance to get the call overturned, Oh St would have challenged. The play was rolling the dice for the game. Tressel was gambling it all. You certainly don't hang on to your challenge if you think you have any hope at all of a reversal.

103 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

So far this game is a such a huge argument for a playoff. If Jarvis Moss doesn't block Ryan Succop's kick and SC ends up beating Florida, does that make Florida any worse?

No.

But we would have seen a Michigan-Ohio State rematch tonight and the winner would be crowned "champ." And no one would know for sure how good Ohio State and Michigan were compared to the other elite teams (SoCal, Florida, LSU).

105 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

After watching this first half, it is clear that the Buckeyes just cannot match up with the Gator offense. Though I like how Urban Meyer looked dumbfounded when he was being asked the question if they "confused" the Buckeyes.

Without Ted Ginn Jr the Buckeyes don't have half as many plays or looks that they could show Florida to try and get some better match ups.

The 4th and 1 call, I think they had to go for it, but the tackle #71 Steve Rehring is slow to pull on the trap which is why Florida was able to stuff them.

I also don't know what Ohio State was thinking, I thought the 3rd and goal play for Tebow had to be 100% pass.

107 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

OSU's only success on either side of the ball in the 1st half was their running game (and you had to kind of squint to see that). So now will they have the patience to mix in the running game? Tressel seems too smart to "just put the game in the hands of the Heisman Trophy winner," but they're going to run out of time if the don't have success fast.

I agree with the posts wondering how OSU thought they'd stop anyone playing everyone back. Seems like they're playing scared. Good way to get the D back on its heels and playing without confidence.

Barry Alvarez is excellent.

109 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Ohio's band played the theme from Titanic at half time. Did any of them bother to watch that film until the end?

112 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Ohio state is really playing off on defense. On one third down passing play, two florida receivers were open past the sticks with OSU zone coverage BEHIND them.

113 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

I'm interested to see how many AP voters have the stones to vote Boise State #1, if Florida holds on.

115 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

A lot of SEC teams run that rugby style punt. Lou Holtz brought it back in the late 90s because in college you can get your coverage team downfield before you actually punt the ball.

116 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Why wouldn't they be worried about Gonzalez? I know he doesn't have a ton of melanin, but he's about as fast and elusive as Ginn.

117 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

I've not seen enough OSU games this year, then ... I've always thought of Gonzalez as more of a possession-type receiver. Didn't know he had the speed.

Of course, it may not matter when your O line can't block and your receivers can't get open.

I am not sure what to make of this.

118 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

112 - it's been that way all game. Did you see the Tebow TD pass? Two OSU DBs trolling the back line.

119 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Did some checking on the Maryland I formation. (Thanks again #110. I don't watch much college football) Looks like Meyer used it in Utah and also passed out of it once on 4th and 1. Linked.

120 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

I may not know enough football X's and O's to say this with authority, but it seems the OSU D isn't making many adjustments to the Florida WR/RB shifts before the snap. They seem to be frozen, and afraid to press coverage or make adjustments in return.

121 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Sorry, that probably came off a little harsh. You know, unfounded accusations of racism and all that.

Gonzalez does tend to play more of a possession receiver role, but he's definitely been a solid deep threat as well. He's, uh, deceptively speedy. Usually when they line up on the same side, they run Ginn deep and let Gonzalez do the underneath/crossing route, but that has to do more with hand quality than anything (Ginn drops a lot, he reminds me of Braylon Edwards more than anyone). When they cross it up and send Gonzalez deep, you really can't tell much difference between him and Ginn.

Except Gonzalez can walk without crutches now. Sigh.

122 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

I did some "research" on the Maryland I formation (Thanks again #110, I don't watch much football). Yeah I typed it into google :-) Meyer used it in Utah (2005) and once threw a pass from it on 4th and 1. Maybe something to look for later if the game gets tighter.

123 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

"Penalty on the kicking team, and, um, we're going to determine whether that foul will be accepted or not."

Usually one asks that before announcing the penalty, eh?

124 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Sigh is right.

No offense taken, btw -- I took it more as a statement about the media assuming that only more-pigmented gentlemen can be "fast."

Amazing how the OSU offense seems to be totally inept tonight. At what point do we stop mentioning the huge layoff and say "This team is getting its ass kicked on both sides of the ball?"

125 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

That's only a foul when the player downs the ball. He didn't touch the ball. I don't get these refs--how can you not know the rules--not that it matters anyways.

Also, it looks like the Florida coaches have told Leak to not throw the ball unless he's absolutely sure his target is open. They're running out the clock but have they gone conservative too soon?

126 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

One thing that surprises me is that Florida haven't run the inside shovel pass: It was a core part of Meyer's attack at Utah, and they seemed to run it quite a few times against Arkansas

Maybe they are worried about Leak giving it to the DE again...

127 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Why can't we have the Florida-Boise State matchup everyone was clamoring for weeks ago? Damn you BCS...when will you learn?

128 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Apparently we've entered the portion of the game where UF goes braindead. I thought they would skip that part tonight but I was mistaken. The question is if OSU can score here and make UF sweat a little before they get their brains back.

129 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

No, Rocco, we've entered the portion of the game where OSU is officially put out of its (and my) misery.

130 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

What is a bit weird about this game is the inability of either team to pass the ball more than 10 yards down the field. Florida has been very consistently gaining 4-8 yards while building the lead but is averaging only 6 yards a pass attempt to this point. Efficient but not very pretty...I'm sure Meyer will take it. OSU looks remarkably inept in all phases of the passing game.

131 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

btw, for those complaining about no challenge or measurement on that 4th down in the 2nd quarter, FLA kicked a touchback so the ball was spotted right on the 20. If the official spots it short of 30, no measurement is needed, its obviously short.

132 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

PR- I'd like to disagree with you since Chris Leak is involved, but it looks like UF has it back together now. Especially since OSU insists on giving receivers miles of space.

134 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Alvarez just made my point as Florida gets another first down. Will Ohio State ever adjust on defense and play the short pass?

135 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

I think what has happened here is that the OSU defense switched with the Colts defense sometime last week.

136 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

At what point does Urban Meyer become the hot name for an NFL head coach spot? He's succeded at every stop so far, and he's apparently on the Bellichick tree, which teams are looking for these days.

137 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

I wonder is TO watching this thinking,"getting your playmaker involved, what a novel concept".

Damn you Percy Harvin and player friendly Urban Meyer *shakes fist*

138 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Florida was throwing intermediate passes early in the game. Now that they're up by so much they probably don't want Leak taking *any* risks at all.

It looks like their strategy is to run the clock out in the second half because they think their defense won't give up 21 points. So far it's working, but I think they should cut out some of their gimmicks and just run and playaction off of it.

139 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

What will this do to Troy Smith's draft position? And how ugly would it be to see Brady Quinn against this defense without Jeff Samardzija?

140 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Re 134

I don't know about his scheme in the NFL.

For entertainment value, i'd love to see it, but I think after the Run and Shoot of the 90s, we won't see Meyer's system there...

141 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Down by 20 ... time running out in the third quarter ... sure, OSU -- run off tackle. That'll get you back into the game.

142 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

And it might hurt Smith's draft position, but it might not -- he wasn't going to be a first, or even a second, round pick unless he had a lights-out game, and even then I'd doubt he'd go higher than mid-second round.

He's going to be a project pick, the QB who gets the hometown fans rooting for him when his team's starting QB plays poorly. In Pittsburgh before Ben, that'd be "almost every second-string QB the Steelers ever had."

143 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

re 126 - That's the portion called the first ten minutes of the 3rd quarter, right? And just on schedule the O wakes up a bit and reverses the field.

144 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

Navin,

I agree that there were a few intermediate passes early and Meyer is taking no chances now but I'd love to see a passing chart because it seems like Ohio State is defending a deep ball that Florida has not even attempted.

145 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

141- Oddly enough, yes. Pretty much like they did all year, although often times they'd mix in the brainfarts randomly throughout the game just to keep it interesting.

And Troy Smith just takes a brutal sack.

146 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

The left tckle for OSU is really picking up the soap.

This isn't even entertaiing.

148 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

That was a beautifully designed blitz by Florida on that 3rd down sack. They've been bouncing guys around the line all game. They showed a 6 man blitz, and the o-line had no idea where the true pressure would be coming from. Throw in the fact that Troy Smith looks absolutely lost, and I'd say this is the finest defensive game plan anyone could have expected out of Florida.

I feel like I'm watching a Colts playoff loss, where the o-line and Peyton fall apart as soon as a tough D starts jumping around the line of scrimmage.

149 Re: SDA's BCS Championship Preview

I don't know how you can blame Smith right now. It's a little tough to throw when they don't even attempt to block Moss on any play. Any idea what Boone might possibly be looking at? Let's see, I'm the furthest outside left blocker, a guy with 12 sacks tonight is lined up directly over me is clearly coming on this play, I think I'll turn inside and help chip the DT before turning around and waving at the guy I totally should've blocked all along. Ugh.