BCS Championship Game Preview: The Battle for No. 1

Joe MorganSenior Analyst IJanuary 7, 2009

After reading hundreds of previews for the BCS Championship Game, it started to become redundant.

While there were several out there that I thoroughly enjoyed, many others just repeated what I have been hearing on ESPN for the last month.

I will now do my best to counter the main arguments that have been made for both sides and I will offer what I think will be the deciding factor in this game. 

Those who favor the Gators argue that the Sooners' sketchy pass defense will allow Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin to have a field day in Miami come Thursday.

However, Oklahoma's run of dominance is actually quite impressive, considering that eight of their opponents this season rank in the Top 25 nationally in scoring offense.

Sure, the offense is scoring a bunch of points, but Sam Bradford and Jermaine Gresham aren't playing both ways.

Give these guys some credit. 

In addition, this is the most important game that the Sooner defense has ever played to date and you can bet on them bringing their A-game against Florida.

By the way, didn't they do a pretty good job of containing that Michael Crabtree guy?

Oklahoma is no pushover—they are talented on both sides of the ball.

While there are those who favor the orange and blue, just as many folks think that Bob Stoops and the Sooners will be college football's national champions.

A major argument coming from this side is the apparent weakness of the schedule Florida played this season.

The Gators' signature wins this season came against LSU, Georgia, and Florida State, three teams that are normally in the BCS hunt.

However, injuries and youth proved too much for these perennial title game contenders to overcome and the strength of Florida's opposition has been questioned.

Well, here's your answer.

Every opponent on the Gator's schedule made a postseason bowl game except for The Citadel, a FCS team.

Another key factor is that Florida faced 10 teams that ranked among the Top 40 in total defense in 2008, scoring an average of 42.3 points per game against them.

The Gators are battle-tested and they are ready for the Sooners.

Although I agree that the aforementioned factors will play huge roles in this game, the main battle will be between the head coaches.

Here is a closer look at what the coaches bring to this game and how they will both affect the outcome dramatically.

Stoops is a terrific football coach.

Since the 2000 season, Stoops has more wins (102) than any other active coach in college football.

In addition, the former Florida defensive coordinator has led the Sooners to eight BCS bowl games during his tenure in Norman and does not look to be slowing down any time soon.

However, Stoops is beginning to lose his reputation for winning important games.

After losing four consecutive BCS bowl games, along with three losses to archrival Texas in the last four seasons.

While his recent futility in big games may be considered a weakness, it provides motivation for Stoops and the Sooners to break that streak as well.

Stoops is one of the top coaches in college football today, but Urban Meyer isn't too shabby either.

Meyer is phenomenal when given multiple weeks to prepare for games, sporting a 24-3 record following bye weeks.

In fact, he was undefeated in bowl games until Chad Henne and Michigan torched the Gators' youthful secondary in the 2008 Capital One Bowl.

Meyer is also a great motivator, doing whatever it takes to fire his team up and get them ready to play their best football.

He even admitted in his book, Urban's Way, to making up criticism of the Gators prior to their matchup with Ohio State in the BCS Championship Game two seasons ago, attributing it to ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit.

I'd be willing to bet that he is talking up his defense, telling them that there is no way they will be able to stop the 60-point juggernaut that is the Oklahoma offense.

I'm sure Meyer even makes a point to constantly remind Tebow which player won the Heisman Trophy this season and that he is only the fourth best quarterback in college football.

One more factor is Meyer's control of the special teams.

Ever since he has arrived at Florida, he has taken command of that unit, making the Gators' special teams one of the best in the nation.

Featuring one of the top kick returners in the nation in Brandon James and boasting seven blocked kicks in 2008, special teams may be Florida's greatest advantage.

While they are both great coaches, the coaching advantage goes to Meyer.

His ability to motivate his players and think quickly on his feet, combined with the discipline and explosiveness of the Gators' special teams will prove to be the difference in Miami.

The Florida Gators will defeat the Oklahoma Sooners in what should be a great BCS Championship Game to collect their second crystal football in three seasons.

Florida Gators 38, Oklahoma Sooners 34

Statistics courtesy of gatorzone.com, soonersports.com, and cfbstats.com.



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