Some might be tempted to view Utah’s victory over Alabama as a sign that anything can happen in college football and that a Gators victory on Thursday night is far from assured.
I think that’s nonsense and I wouldn’t be surprised if Oklahoma loses by at least 10 points. And here’s my surefire reasons for the Gators victory.
1. The Heisman Trophy curse. I’m sure Tim Tebow – who lost his bowl game last year – will be more than willing to tell Sam Bedford about this one. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that winning the trophy equals diminished performance come bowl time. The spotlight and the publicity takes time away from preparing for the big game.
2. Oklahoma’s mediocre defense won’t be able to stop the Gators. The Sooners are ranked 63rd in total defense. That’s lower than Alabama, Tennessee, Florida State, South Carolina, Georgia etc. etc. You get the idea.
3. Florida’s defense will give Oklahoma more trouble than they realize. The Gators by contrast have the nation’s 8th ranked defense and is the 4th highest scoring defense. The Gators had 24 interceptions – the second best in the nation – this season. Despite all the hype surrounding Tebow and the offense, this is why the Gators have lost just one game.
4. The Big 12 Conference has already shown this bowl season that it’s not the turbo-charged dyanmo of college football that cheerleader ESPN claimed it was. Texas Tech was schooled by Ole Miss, while the Texas squeaker against Ohio State should not be seen as vindication. Remember USC? They beat the Buckeyes 35-3.
5. Tim Tebow may come off as a little bit too earnest for those aren’t members of the Gators faithful. But he’s unstoppable come game time. This year he has shown he will do anything to win, whether it’s pass or bulldoze his way down the field. And if you think he’s been motivated before, can you imagine how pumped up he’s going to be now that Oklahoma cornerback Dominque Franks called him the fourth-best quarterback in the Big 12?
6. That crazy spread offense gets ridiculed by folks like Bama coach Nick Saban but right now no college can figure out how to stop it. Saban ought to know because first he lost to the Gators and he still couldn’t figure it out when the Utah Utes ran his team out of the Sugar Bowl.
7. Speed, speed, speed. This gets repeated a lot but it’s true. Gators Coach Urban Meyer has one of the fastest all-around teams ever in the history of college football, with several defensive and offense players who boast amazing 4.3 or better speed. Speed at running back, speed at wide receiver, speed everywhere.
8. The return of Percy Harvin will not just be a psychological boost for the Gators. Harvin is a difference-maker plain and simple. Defenses can’t just key on Tebow and expect to win. They have to worry about whether Harvin catches the ball or runs the ball.
9. Oklahoma’s dismal record in BCS games – losing the last four – is not just some throwaway statistic. It’s a sign that Sooners Coach Bob Stoops has trouble keeping his team focused and ready for the bowl game. One of the biggest problems for a lot of college football teams is that month-long layoff between the end of the season and the bowls. There’s a reason that a lot of NFL players don’t even like a two-week layoff between the playoffs and the Super Bowl. When your team is clicking you want to keep playing.
10. Florida’s special teams are nothing to forget about. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brandon James – the nation’s 13th best punt returner – takes one back against the Sooners and starts the rout.