I had planned to write a large preview of the BCS National Championship game tomorrow...but now I have to work all day and won't have time. So today's the day!
Before I begin, I think the best in-depth-yet-still-brief preview you can find is from MotSaG (as usual). It's well worth the read, and don't be shocked if I borrow a few important points from the Men.
The BCS National Championship Game
Ohio State (12-0) vs. Florida (12-1)
First, let me vent.
MotSaG brought up an interesting point regarding a multitude of prognosticators calling the game for Florida and their various reasons. And as I read those reasons, which include "southern speed", Heisman jinxes, extended layoffs between games, and the SEC being better than the Big Ten, I became infuriated.
Seriously, in the history of college football, has there ever been a team that was a wire-to-wire #1 that gets less respect than Ohio State? For crying out loud, how many #2 teams do we have to knock off before we get the accolades for it? How many other bowl teams do we have to beat by 20, 30, and 40 points before somebody says "this is the best team in college football this year"?? And yes, we did beat bowl teams by that much. Of bowl teams, we beat Michigan by 3 points, Texas by 17, Iowa by 21, Penn State by 22, Northern Illinois by 23, Cincinnati by 30 and Minnesota by 44. When you beat EVERY bowl team you play by an AVERAGE of 23 points per game, that should earn more promotion than a supposed Heisman jinx, predicated on Vinnie Testaverde choking against Penn State in the late 80s.
OK, enough venting. Now for my genuine (although extremely biased) anaylsis. Hey, I went to Ohio State and I run this blog. I can be biased if I want.
Ohio State earned their trip to this game with incredible and solid play all year long. Florida cannot repeat that claim.
Florida did not earn their trip. They backed in. They got in because Michigan couldn't close the deal. They got in because USC choked. They got in because nobody else wanted it bad enough.
But that's not to say they are not a great team, because they are. They do have a lot of speed, their defense is strong, and they (most of the year) made the plays they needed to make in order to win big games. I just don't believe that their strengths will be enough to overcome Ohio State's strengths.
When Florida has the ball
Florida does not have a particularly strong rushing game. Their two best rushers are DeShawn Wynn (53 yards per game) and Tim Tebow (33 yards per game), and Tebow won't be in the game most of the time. He's a second-team QB who gets put in to run the ball, in what could be the worst case of telegraphing plays I've ever seen.. Add to all of this the fact that Ohio State has the 15th-best rush defense in the NCAA, and you can envision Florida being unable to use the run to set up the pass.
Florida's biggest offensive threat is their passing game, and we will be able to key on that. Chris Leak was once a Heisman candidate, and he is one of the better QBs we will see all year. So we have to key on him. As Leak goes, so go the Gators. And if he starts out strong, we will have to pull back on rush D to buckle down on him.
When Ohio State has the ball
Clearly, Ohio State's biggest strength is their passing game. Troy Smith didn't win the Heisman Trophy by accident, and he simply does not disappoint in big games. Ask Michigan. Or Texas. Or Michigan. Or Notre Dame. Or Michigan. But even worse for Florida is that Smith is not alone. 5 solid WRs and a backfield to throw to make us the hardest team to defend against the pass. So Florida will need a LOT more help on defense than Reggie Nelson can provide. Ask Leon Hall about that one. And this is where the game will be decided.
Florida has the 48th-ranked pass defense in the NCAA.
Think about that. 48th against the pass.
Notre Dame has the 47th-best pass defense in the NCAA. Notre Freaking Dame's pass D is statistically better than Florida's. Have you EVER heard anybody with integrity say "damn, that Notre Dame pass defense is good"???
If Ohio State can spread the offense out and open it up like they did so successfully down the stretch, they should win their 8th National Championship.
When OSU needs to run the ball, they've got a lot of weapons to choose from. Antonio Pittman has nearly 1,200 yards and is the workhorse. Chris Wells is just shy of 600 yards in his freshman campaign, and really showed his big-game capability in The Game. Add to that the under-used Troy Smith's rushing attack and you have a complete team. Only problem is that Florida has the 6th-best rushing defense in the NCAA.
Ohio State hasn't played a team with as good of a rushing defense since....the last game they played, when they beat #1 Michigan. And for good measure, they also beat #3 Texas.
Ohio State has been attacked for a weak schedule. God only knows why, but they have. Yet, beating two #2-ranked teams by an average of 10 points, beating 7 bowl teams by an average of 23 points, and blowing out the lower-echelon opponents by an average of 30 points per game is what a championship team SHOULD do.
Florida's schedule is good, but I just don't buy into the whole SEC supremacy argument. So I refuse to look at Florida's schedule through rose-colored glasses.
- A 1-point win against Tennessee....meh. Penn State beat 'em by 10.
- A 6-point win against Vanderbilt....meh. Michigan beat 'em by 20.
- A 1-point win against South Carolina....big meh. A kicker who doesn't wet himself involuntarily would have won that game.
- A squeaker against Florida State.....meh. Any other year, I'd be impressed. Not when FSU goes 7-6 though.
- And that Auburn game. You do remember they lost that one, don't you? By 10. And they choked it up big time there. Hell, Auburn scored ZERO points on offense, and still beat the almighty Florida.
I've been scared going into Ohio State games this year. Texas frightened me. Iowa worried me. Michigan gave me nightmares. Florida just concerns me. That's all.
Give me Jim Tressel with a team loaded with talent, and I'll give you a championship.
Ohio State wins this one and brings home their second BCS Championship, the first team to win the BCS twice.
Ohio State 34
Oh, and one last thing. I cheered for Michigan in the Rose Bowl, like I do EVERY year when they play a bowl game. That's what Big Ten fans do...at least the ones who "get it". When Ohio State wins this game, I fully expect a blogswarm to the M-Zone, for their public support of Florida, a team they claimed to hate just four days ago. Attack, attack, attack.