Gators' Resilience, Defense Helps Florida Outlast Oklahoma in BCS Championship

Gustavo DestroSenior Analyst IJanuary 9, 2009

Legend has it that when Paul "Bear" Bryant went to a recruit to try to lure him to play for Alabama he would say, "Son, do you wanna win? Then come to Alabama."

Urban Meyer may be able to bring in recruits using the same line.

Florida's 24-14 win over the Oklahoma Sooners has cemented Urban Meyer as college football's best current head coach and the University of Florida as college football's new "it" school.

It was by no means easy but the Gators did it the old-fashioned way, with defense and a dominant running game. Florida ran for 232 rushing yards—Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin shouldered the brunt of the load with 22 and nine carries respectively.

The story of the game, however, was Florida's defense, which was given the seemingly impossible task of slowing down Oklahoma's high-octane offense. No one had come close to slowing down the Sooners since their defeat to Texas.

The Gators did it, holding Oklahoma to 14 points, by far its lowest offensive output for the season. They stopped two Oklahoma drives inside their own 5-yard line and intercepted Sam Bradford twice.

The most impressive aspect of the feat was their timing. The second of the goal-line stands—an interception by safety Major Wright—ended an Oklahoma drive that could have given the Sooners the lead going into halftime.

The Gators' second interception was, in effect, the game's most important play. With the score 17-14 in favor of Tebow's crew, the Sooners began to drive down the field and their offense was moving along well. That was before safety Ahmad Black wrestled the football away from Juaquim Iglesias' hands and gave Florida the ball back.

The Gators' offense proceeded to move down the field and score, icing the game and sealing the final score.

Oklahoma's biggest problem was not capitalizing on many chances during the first half. They kept Tebow in check for most of the opening half and intercepted him twice. They had long drives and were able to protect Bradford for most of the game but could not punch it in when they had they chance.

And everyone knew it wouldn't be long until the Man-Child took over the game.

After his two first half interceptions, Tebow played a near flawless game, finishing with a line that read 18-out of-30 for 232 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. He also rushed 22 times for 108 yards.

But if you know Tebow, you know it's not about the statistics. He made plays when the Gators needed him and rarely made a bad decision during the second half—the whistle incident not included.

And as for the Maestro behind the spectacle, what can be said about Urban Meyer that hasn't been said before? He has an uncanny ability to lure talent to Gainesville and it is really no surprise.

He runs and offense that is fun to play in and that gets everyone involved. He doesn't have any revolutionary defensive schemes, but has a great eye for talent and always puts a group of fast, ball-hawking players on defense.

And, of course, Gainesville itself is a major recruiting chip.

For the beginning of the 21st century, USC had established itself as college football's "coolest" university, the one university almost every big-time recruit aimed for.

Now, after two titles in three years, an offense that is current with what teams run in the high schools, and a beautiful campus/weather, Florida became that school.

And Urban Meyer may not need to sweet talk recruits as much.

The product on the field is worth a million words.