Florida Won't Blow Shot to Repeat as National Champions

Major ClausenContributor IAugust 31, 2009

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 25:  Joe Haden #5 of the Florida Gators in a game against the Kentucky Wildcats during at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on October 25, 2008 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

No college football team is in a better position to win the BCS National Championship this year than Florida, and there is no doubt in my mind that the Gators will hoist the trophy on Jan. 7 in Pasadena.


They are simply too deep, too fast, too experienced, and too well-coached.


Combine those factors with a favorable schedule, and it is tough to see how Florida could end up playing in any bowl game besides the national championship this year.


Sure, Florida no longer has the most explosive player in the country in wide receiver and running back Percy Harvin, and no team has been crowned undisputed national champions in back-to-back years since Tom Osborne’s Nebraska Cornhusker squads in 1994 and 1995.


And it’s also easy to be tempted to think that Texas and quarterback Colt McCoy will slay Florida in the Rose Bowl, just like Vince Young did four seasons ago when USC was trying to repeat.


But you quickly forget about those thoughts when you look at Florida’s team from top to bottom. The Gators have a strong-armed, strong-willed, and accurate quarterback in Tim Tebow to go along with two track stars at running back in Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, one of the top tight ends in the country in Aaron Hernandez, and a five-deep receiving corps that will be much more polished than it was a year ago.


And on the other side of the ball, Florida has two ferocious pass rushers in defensive ends Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap, a quick linebacking corps led by Brandon Spikes, and a secondary whose starters plucked 19 picks in 2008.


In fact, no secondary is even worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence with Florida’s going into the season. Cornerback Joe Haden can shut down any wide receiver outside of Alabama’s Julio Jones or USC’s Damian Williams, and safeties Ahmad Black and Major Wright can jump any route, as is proven by the 12 interceptions that they brought down last year.


Florida’s offense may not average 43.6 points per game like it did in 2008 with Harvin scaring defensive coordinators more than the blonde stripper waving her high heels around like the bill of a Marlin at the Body Shop in Hollywood, but it won’t have to because of its defense, which will hold more than half of its opponents to under 20 points this season.


It would be tough to see Florida losing a game this year, even if the Gators had the SEC schedule that turned an uber-talented Georgia squad into just a decent 9-3 team last year.


And that is what makes Florida’s chances of repeating in 2009 even more likely, as its schedule is extremely favorable.


There is only one Saturday during the regular season that Gators head coach Urban Meyer will have to sweat about, and that is when the team travels to Baton Rouge to take on LSU on Oct. 10.


And while it is possible that Florida could lose to Les Miles and the TigersI’ll pick Florida to beat themthe status that the SEC has gained over the years will make it so AP Top 25 voters will still put them into the BCS National Championship game, as long as that marks the Gators' only loss and they beat their SEC West opponentprobably Alabamain the conference’s championship game on Dec. 5.

Don’t get me wrong, there are other uber-talented teams in college football this year, as Texas has an experienced defense and could have an offense that is deadlier than Jason Bourne if its running game is any better than it was last year.

USC could come out unscathed against Ohio State, Cal, Notre Dame, and Oregon on the road on their way to a 12-0 record if true freshman quarterback Matt Barkley doesn’t force any throws into coverage in the first half of those games.

Oklahoma will take a step back this year because of their inexperienced receiving corps.

But Texas will not be able to hang with Florida’s playmakers over a span of four quarters, and it will eventually fall to Tebow and Co. by two scores when the Longhorns meet the Gators in Pasadena come January.

Everything is in place for Florida to repeat as the kings of college football this year. No reasonable coach could ask for a more skilled set of players to fill his roster, a better quarterback to lead them on the field like Tebow does, nor a schedule that is as favorable and yet competitive to warrant a spot in the national championship game like the one that the Gators have.

The national championship trophy currently has Florida’s name on it, and it will literally have Florida’s name on it for the third time in four years come January.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.