I stood breathless, terrified, but in awe of what I was witnessing.
They wouldn't stop—couldn't stop—until enough points had been scored and every Ohio State Buckeye in their way had been vanquished.
And in the end, I watched as they celebrated their perfect evening, not with unbridled joy but with a satisfied grin. They had been trained to dominate, to play relentless football and that they did. The Buckeyes—a team that everyone thought was perfect—had a first-row seat to watch what real perfection looked like.
I'm talking about the 2006 BCS National Championship Game between the Florida Gators and the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes entered the contest unblemished and seemingly unstoppable. The Gators arrived in University Of Phoenix Stadium once defeated and sizable underdogs.
I was there as a member of OSU's student-media, riding high and having no fear that the Gators would defeat the Buckeyes and their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith. After all, we had just defeated then-No.2 Michigan in the "Game of the Century." We also had offensive mastermind Jim Tressel, a coach who at that point had never lost a BCS game.
It is also important to remember that the game was played before the SEC superiority complex that exists in the football landscape today. Power football still had a prominent place in college football, a game that still held the philosophy that the run sets up the pass. After the nation watched what the Gators did to the Buckeyes on January 7, 2007, everything changed.
With an array of speedy playmakers at their disposal, Florida quarterbacks Chris Leak and Tim Tebow ate the Ohio State defense alive. Their speedier defense feasted on the OSU offense, tormenting Smith all day to the tune of just four completed passes. Meyer had showed the world that speed, not power, was where football was headed, and the game has never looked back.
Meyer's Gators also showed us something else, something even more impressive than their speed and offensive scheme. Meyer showed what an angry and hungry team can do when they play with relentless abandon. I'll never forget what happened during a commercial timeout following Ohio State's first touchdown a mere 14 seconds into the contest.
While the Buckeyes were literally injuring each other in celebration following the score, the Gators jumped around on the field and on the sideline as if they were the ones who were ahead. Florida's players slapped each other, raised their arms to the crowd and returned the ensuing kickoff deep into Buckeye territory. After tying the score just minutes later, the Gators' message to the Buckeyes was heard loud and clear: "We're not afraid of you, and we're going to be coming at you all night."
And come they did, like Terminators whose only reason for living was to make sure that they dismantled every Buckeye in their path on their way to eminent victory. And win they did (41-14, and if you can believe it, the score wasn't even that close), winning Meyer's first national title with a fashion and style that may never be duplicated again.
That is, until this season, with Meyer coaching the same team that he defeated in his finest hour. He preached winning with anger, being hungry and being relentless. Everyone who remembers the game on January 7, 2007 knows what the results are when an entire team plays with that mindset. If one or more of Meyer's Ohio State teams can adopt and duplicate that same mindset, the rest of the college football world should be wary of facing the Silver Bullets in the coming years.
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