Tuesday, January 09, 2007

It's the end of the world as we know it: Gators are Nat'l Champs- in 2 sports!

Gators dismantle Buckeyes, 41-14.
I wonder if that fancy stadium has a confetti machine built into the roof?

Who would have thought that all this time it was the Buckeyes that didn't belong in the BCS Championship Game presented by Tostitos from the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona?

Turns out the matchup shoulda been Florida vs. Boise State.

There's only one thing worse than being a Florida resident & Gator Hater in a year that the team wins the National Championship...

...and that's living here and hating the University of Florida when it becomes the first school in NCAA history to hold national championships in two sports simultaneously (Billy Donovan's hoop team won the title last April.)
The Gators have now won 2 national titles, after the 1996 and 2006 seasons. (Note to self: do not watch college football in 2016.)

It was a dark way to begin the sports world of 2007 -okay, the Pats did start the new year off right with that ass-kicking of the Jets Sunday, but it was a wild card game for crying out loud, that doesn't really count. As a guy with two good friends who are insufferable Gator fans/UF alums I will have to listen to them ride me mercilessly for a solid year. To Gator Janet and Gambling Gator Michael I just want to say congratulations and don't be surprised if you don't see too much of me in the '0-7.

Where to begin with this Debacle in the Desert? Things went swimmingly for the Buckeyes- for the first 16 seconds of the game. That was how long it took for Speedster Tedd Ginn Jr to receive the opening kickoff and return it 93 yards for a gasp-inducing score.

But minutes later the junior would leave with an ankle sprain and the Buckeyes offense went along with him.

From then on the game was as sound of an ass whupping you will ever see applied to a #1 team. The wishy-washy Gators dominated the once-dominant Buckeyes with a ferocity that resembled some of the great national champions of all time.

The numbers begin to tell the picture, because these were some lopsided stats.

If any children are reading this, please scroll past this next part.

UF- 370
OSU- 82
UF- 156
OSU- 47
1st DOWNS:
UF- 21
OSU- 8
UF- 10/19
OSU- 1/9
UF-Leak: 25-36, 213 yards, TD
OSU- Smith: 4-14, 35 yards, INT

It was all over but the crying for Smith & Pittman by late in the 2nd quarter

Yep, you read that the right. The Heisman recipient laid one of the biggest eggs in the history of bowls featuring the winner of the coveted award, and in the final game of his collegiate career no less.

Geez, for his sake I hope there weren't any scouts watching.

By the fourth quarter I don't think many non-Gator fans were watching as the game devolved into a circus freakshow- watching Troy Smith attempt to escape his reptilian predators only to get hammered to the turf like chop meat; seeing a forlorn Ginn on the sideline, propped up on crutches pondering what might have been; watching the 6th-highest scoring team in the country that was riding a 19-game winning streak fail to convert multiple scoring opportunities from inside the 50.

On and on it went. The carnage was so severe that David Cronenberg had to turn his head away at one point.

If you are a Gator fan it was a splendid performance by an underrated team that took on the big bullies at a $500 million playground and punched them in the mouths. Not even many Gator faithful thought the team had a great chance to win the game, let alone destroy OSU and defrock Lord Tressel in the process.

But that's exactly what happened. And it happened quickly and mercilessly, like an avalanche plowing over helpless skiers leaving only destruction and pain in its wake.

After jumping out to the 7-0 lead on Ginn's return Florida answered right back with a 46-yard drive (UF had great field position all night) capped by a 4-yard TD from Leak to Dallas Baker. That touchdown was followed by a 4-yard scoring run by Percy Show No Mercy Harvin, who combined for 14 touches, 82 yards and the score. By the time DeShawn Wynn ran in a 2-yard touchdown 6 seconds into the second quarter the game had taken on that queasy feeling of an unforeseen blowout.

This helmetless sack by Earl Everett typified the gator defensive drive all night

Or maybe it was just my stomach from the Tostitos.

The Buckeyes staunched the bleeding momentarily after mounting their best drive of the game, culminating in an 18 yard TD run by Antonio Pittman. But the 7-point gap would quickly turn to 20 before the half after 2 field goals by the previously horrid Chris Hetland and a 1-yard TD pass by the Future, Tim Tebow (10 rushes for 39 yards and a TD, 1 pass for 1 yard & a TD) to Andre Reche's brother Caldwell. That score made it 34-14 at the break and the entire second half was just a Gator coronation party.

But the game was really about vindication for many on the Florida sidelines.

For Hetland, who had received death threats and hate mail, not to mention pleas for his ouster, from the always classy Gator faithful. His 42 & 40-yard field goals gave Urban Meyer a confidence that he could use him if he had to, and it lifted the spirits of his teammates who had been pulling for him all season despite his struggles.

"I love crystal; it goes great with my sparkling eyes."

For Leak, who also had been the subject of many a message board rant, claiming he was too soft, showed no passion for the game, and couldn't run Meyer's spread offense as well as the much-beloved local boy/anointed Chosen One, Tebow. To all those who claimed he couldn't win a big big game, meaning the national championship because he had already won almost every other big game in his career at UF, this was the cherry on top. The Gators will have their prodigal son barrelling his way through defenses next season; Chris Leak will have his championship ring and the satisfaction of knowing he truly earned it in the biggest game of his life.

And finally drone-like Urban Meyer was vindicated from all the critics who said his Bowling Green & Utah-bred Spread Offense would never succeed in the SEC and that he couldn't get out of these players what Ron Zook couldn't either. That it would take 3, 4, 5 years before the Urban Renewal Plan would begin to take effect.

Just 2 years later the Gators are the National Champs.

And I've got to spend the next year trying to avoid that fact.

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