Sunday, January 07, 2007

BOWL PREVIEW: Tostitos BCS National Championship Game

As is the tradition at C&F ...

What's that? Yes, I know this is C&F's first year. That means I can create whatever traditions I want. Happy?

As I was say, as is the tradition at C&F, there is little introduction to the national championship game preview.* So here it is.

Bowl: Tostitos BCS National Championship Game
Location: Glendale, Arizona

It’s so shiny.

When: Jan. 8, 8:30 p.m. ET (kickoff, after an hour of gratuitous pregame coverage), FOX
Purported reason for existence: To declare a national champion.
Real reason for existence: Roy Kramer. And to declare a national champion.
Teams: Ohio State vs. Florida
Interest level: Jessica Alba.

Quite possibly the only thing on Earth we’d rather see Monday night.

Key player for Ohio State (on offense): QB Troy Smith. This one isn’t even close. You know the drill. Heisman trophy winner. Completion rate of 67 percent. More than 2,500 yards passing, 30 TDs, 5 INTs. And, by ESPN’s estimation, THE BEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYER ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET. But still not as good as Reggie Bush.
Key player for Ohio State (on defense): LB James Laurinaitis. No, not because his father is a wrestler -- though you could be forgiven for thinking that is his most important attribute if you watch ESPN. Instead, it’s because he has 100 tackles, 8.5 TFL, four sacks, five interceptions and three forced fumbles.
Key player for Florida (on offense): QB Chris Leak. Yeah, Tim Tebow is the rock star. And Percy Harvin is scary fast. (And should, near as C&F can tell, be the Heisman guy for the SEC next year, but nobody ever listens to him.) And Dallas Baker is “the touchdown maker.” (Lord, Berman, what have you wrought?) But Leak is the heart and soul. He makes this team soar -- okay, so they never do that. He makes this team do well or crash and burn. A good day for him is a good day for Florida. A bad day for him … eh, Hail the Buckeyes. Or whatever they say. Oh yeah -- throw in numbers. A 63 percent completion rate, 2,729 yards, 22 TDs and 13 INTs.
Key player for Florida (on defense): DB Reggie Nelson. Others have more tackles and interceptions. But none have the ability to neatly separate a receiver from the ball -- or from his own head -- that Nelson has, often crushing the dreams, bones and psychological health of opponents. Not that 50 tackles, 6 INTs and five passes broken up is anything to sneeze at.
Coaching matchup: Jim “Cheatypants McSweatervest” Tressel, seeking his second national championship, against Urban “Renewal” Meyer, who is trying to make Florida fans forget about that Spurrier guy. Or at least remember that it’s been a while since he was there.
How it should happen: On a run to the sideline, Tim Tebow tragically overruns the boundary and slams into Troy Smith, killing him instantly. Anguished by the loss of his team’s leader, Laurinaitus picks up Tebow and body-slams him into the turf, creating a five foot crater but barely injuring Tebow. Percy Harvin speeds toward Laurinaitis, but is intercepted by Ted Ginn Jr. No one, however, stops Nelson from slamming into Laurinaitis, and the linebacker goes hurtling through the air into a key support beam. The stadium collapses, and ESPN crowns Southern California the national champion.

The dynasty continues!

How it will happen: First of all, let’s dispose with a myth that I bought into. The Ohio State passing game is not as great as it is thought to be. It’s great, but the main imprimatur of all-world status was the game against Michigan and the Wolverines’ great defense. See: Rose Bowl. (And don't get me started on this idea that the media has somehow disrespected Ohio State.) But Ohio State will throw the ball with a modicum of success. They will also have a pretty solid ground game with Antonio Pittman. But Leak will also throw for at least two touchdowns. He might also throw three or four interceptions, but he’ll throw for at least two touchdowns. And Percy Harvin will do something to make you say “ah bah hummah ah ah huh?” Reggie Nelson will make you want to hide behind the sofa at least once. Unless you’re in West Virginia, in which case your sofa was likely burned after the Gator Bowl.
Winner: Florida. Oooh, trendy upset pick. The Gators can handle the Buckeyes. It won’t be pretty. But, then again, it hasn’t been all year with Florida. I personally believe in the power that comes with knowing how to win. Not how to pass. Not how to run. Not how to do any of the thousand things that should indicate a win. But simply how to win. I like teams that find ways to win. Florida 28, Ohio State 24

*tradition subject to change next season

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