BCS Championship – A Southern Thing


A Southern Thing

Florida vs. Oklahoma
BCS Championship Game
Dolphin Stadium, Miami
Jan. 8 at 7:30 ET on Fox


Pass the gravy and biscuits.

Hope that tea you had on New Year’s Day to wash down the black-eyed peas, turnip greens, and buttered cornbread was iced cold and plenty sweet.

Learn to say yes sir (to your daddy), no ma’am (to your mama), and y’all (about a group – never just one person).

Hey this BCS business is getting to be a regular southern thing, so everybody might as well get in the spirit.

The Oklahoma Sooners and Florida Gators meet in the BCS national championship game on January 8th, and if the Gators swamp the Sooner Schooner you might as well just whistle Dixie.

The SEC wins more than the Harlem Globetrotters. More than Lance Armstrong. More than Michael Phelps. OK, maybe not more than him.

Still, a Florida victory in the title game would mark the third consecutive national championship for a team from the Southeastern Conference (LSU in 2007 and Florida in 2006), only the second time in the history of national polling that has happened.

The first? Big surprise, it was the you-know-who when Alabama won the AP in 1978 and 1979, followed by Georgia in 1980. Gee, these teams are greedier than Blago. Only the coaches have better hair than he does.

Need more?

Heading into this holiday slate, the SEC was 9-2 in BCS bowls since the 2000 regular season. In addition to those past two national titles, the league had won its last four BCS games before Utah upset Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. By way of contrast, the ACC was 0 for its last 8 in the Big Cha-ching Series until Virginia Tech beat prestigious Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl … or maybe that was in a basketball game.

Finally, the SEC is undefeated in BCS title games this millennium (LSU in 2003 joining the 2006 Florida and 2007 LSU teams). Putting these teams in the championship game is like watching Tiger Woods play in your Saturday morning foursome … fun, in a scary, intimidating, I hope he’s in a good mood way.

The conference not only plays well on the field, they tend to be closer than Al Franken and voter fraud off it.

Call it provincialism or regional pride, but my guess is a vast majority of fans from the other SEC schools will be pulling for the Gators to win Thursday night. They may be the Hatfields and McCoys against each other, but these SEC boosters turn into Butch and Sundance taking on the Bolivian Federales when them durn outsiders get involved.

Think Oklahoma will get many Texas Longhorns or Texas Tech Red Raiders aboard the Sooner Schooner? Heck, I half expect Mack Brown to wear a Gator head on the sideline in tonight’s Fiesta Bowl.

All that said, to repeat the SEC threepeat Florida will have to overcome a significant obstacle in Oklahoma.

The Sooners boast the most prolific scoring offense since Elvis was still skinny. OU averaged 54 points per game, a full ten points higher than the second best team in the scoring-happy Big 12. QB Sam Bradford, winner of this season’s Heisman Trophy, threw for 48 TDs with only 6 interceptions, while completing over 68% of his passes.

Oklahoma’s offense is not one-dimensional.

Tailbacks Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray (now injured) each rushed for over 1000 yards and they combined for 34 rushing touchdowns. The Sooner offensive line, anchored on the left side by All-Americans Phil Loadholt (tackle) and Duke Robinson (guard), is widely considered to be the nation’s best.

The Oklahoma defense did not perform to the typical standards of head coach Bob Stoops this season, giving up nearly a full touchdown more than conference rival Texas, but the Sooners still ranked in the Big 12’s top two in total defense and scoring defense.

The Sooners face a Florida team on a mission.

The only hiccup in the Gator season happened when Ole Miss overcame a ten-point deficit in the second half to beat Florida in Gainesville on September 27. Since that loss, and an emotional outburst by QB Tim Tebow after the game, the Gators have played with the intensity of a wolf tracking down a deer.

Florida led the SEC in scoring by averaging 46 points per game, a whopping 14 points better than runners-up Alabama and Georgia. Defensively, UF was in the conference top three in virtually every major category.

Statistics aside, make no mistake that this team belongs to Tebow.

In an SEC championship game for the ages against top-ranked Alabama, Tebow willed his team to overcome a fourth-quarter deficit against the rawhide tough Crimson Tide.

One minute he was throwing lasers to a bevy of Florida receivers, the next he was bull-rushing in short-yardage situations, and then he was hollering at defensive leader Brandon Spikes or busting into the huddle of the kick coverage team to fire them up. I think he also vaccinated some children in southeast Asia at halftime.

For all the intangibles of Tebow and the Gators, the Oklahoma Sooners are not another Ohio State, and this showdown should be the best national championship game since Texas and USC after the 2005 season.

Maybe it’s a southern thing, but until an SEC team loses a title game … all together now … look away, look away, look away Dixie Land.

Bowl Ball: Florida

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