Florida wins BCS title game
Take visual tour of Gators' rout of Buckeyes
GLENDALE, Ariz. - Everybody got it wrong except the Gators.
Turns out Florida was too good to be on the same field as Ohio State, and that Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith and the Buckeyes were the ones who weren’t worthy.
Coach Urban Meyer’s once-beaten Gators dominated the undefeated Buckeyes and streaked to college football’s national championship, 41-14 on Monday night.
Florida got all but one of the 65 first-place votes in the final Associated Press poll. Ohio State dropped from No. 1 and finished second.
“Honestly, we’ve played a lot better teams than them,” Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss said. “I could name four or five teams in the SEC that could probably compete with them and play the same type of game we did against them.”
Chris Leak and Tim Tebow showed off Meyer’s twin quarterback system to perfection as the Gators became the first Division I school to hold national titles in football and basketball at the same time.
Now, only one question remains: What about 13-0 Boise State, the last undefeated team left standing after stunning Oklahoma on the very same field in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day? The No. 5 Broncos got the other first-place vote in the AP poll.
Florida’s amazingly easy victory left the Gators with a 13-1 record and the Buckeyes at 12-1. That, and with Wisconsin and Louisville also having lost just once, will almost surely renew calls for a playoff system.
“I love Boise State. We don’t want to go play them. We’re done, we’re done, we’re finished,” Meyer said.
“There are probably five, six, seven great football teams in this country and there is one way to figure out who the better team is and that’s to go play the game,” he said.
Ohio State started out like the one-touchdown favorite it was, but only for an instant.
Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, but then it quickly fell apart for the Buckeyes. Ginn hurt his foot in the touchdown celebration and hobbled off after Ohio State’s first offensive play.
By the time he returned for the second half on crutches, Florida led 34-14.
“We scored on the first play of the game and from that point on really couldn’t keep the pressure where we needed it to be,” Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel said.
“Ohio State didn’t get it done,” he said.
Meyer had a word for the critics who demeaned the Gators.
“I’d like to thank all those people. Our pregame speech was easy,” he said.
Leak, maligned for never winning the big one, completed 25 of 36 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown. The Rambo-like Tebow threw for one TD and powered into the end zone for another.
“My legacy was to get the University of Florida back here,” Leak said.
Smith, meanwhile, joined a long list of Heisman Trophy quarterbacks — Jason White, Eric Crouch and Gino Torretta, among them — to fall apart in bowl games. He was just 4-of-14 for 35 yards with one interception, sacked him five times and held him to minus-29 yards on 10 runs.
“Not everything in life is going to go the exact way you want it,” Smith said. “I don’t have any regrets, though. I really don’t. We came out and fought. We came up short.
“Sometimes you have great games and sometimes you don’t.”
Defensive ends Derrick Harvey and Moss made it a miserable night for Smith. Linebacker Earl Everett got into the act, too, running down Smith on one play despite missing his helmet.
“Nobody never gave us a chance at all,” Florida receiver Dallas Baker said. “We came here with a chip on our shoulder and something to prove. Nobody gave us a chance, but finally we can throw up the No. 1.”
It was the second national title for Florida, adding to the one Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel brought home in 1996 under coach Steve Spurrier with a 52-20 romp over Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.
This time, the man in charge was the 42-year-old Meyer, once a .200 hitter in the low minors in Atlanta’s baseball farm system. Since then, he’s made a rocket rise in the coaching ranks, topped off by a title in his second year at Florida.
The trophy will make a perfect bookend for the one the basketball Gators won by beating UCLA for the national championship in Indianapolis last spring.
“How do I compare them? Both have confetti landing on my head,” athletic director Jeremy Foley said. “I couldn’t believe it in April, I can’t believe it now. I can’t believe I can talk about it without jinxing us. Obviously, things had to break our way to even get here.”
Tressel’s team, meanwhile, looked as if it belonged at the Holiday Bowl, because it took this night off. Given 51 days to prepare, the Buckeyes were confused from the get-go once Florida got the ball.
In the first football matchup between these schools — they’ve both played the sport for 100-plus years — the Gators emphatically stopped Ohio State’s 19-game winning streak.
The Buckeyes beat a pair of No. 2 teams, defending champion Texas and Michigan, earlier in the season, but they were no match for Florida’s speed, strategy and style.
CFT: Former Penn State signalcaller Steven Bench joined the South Florida Bulls, he announced on Twitter.
CFT: The University of Nevada is honoring longtime coach Chris Ault, who stepped down in the fall, by renaming the school's football field after him.
Video: Football from NBC Sports
HBO Real Sports: Bill O'Brien
Penn State football coach and 2012 National Coach of the Year shares the challenges in turning around a program shattered by scandal. Real Sports premieres Tuesday, May 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
BCS title game
Pregame color, key plays and other moments from 'Bama's blowout win.
Check out the action from the postseason.
Check out which players were best of the best at each position.
Check out some of the college football cheerleaders from across the country.