Daily Whimsy (1/5) - Why Florida Will Beat OU
Florida CB Joe Haden
Florida CB Joe Haden
Posted Jan 5, 2009

From Joe Haden and the defense, to the suddenly overrated Big 12, to the lag time between the end of the season and now, here are 10 Reasons Why Florida Will Win The National Title in the January 5th Daily Whimsy.

Fiu's Daily Cavalcade of Whimsy

10 Reasons Why Florida Will Win ... Jan. 5

a.k.a. Frank Costanza's Festivus Airing of the Grievances ... or the obvious attempt to keep readers coming to the site on a regular basis during the off-season.
By Pete Fiutak   
What's your beef? ... Fire off your thoughts  

Past Whimsies:
Tuesday - The Andre Smith suspension
Monday - NFL Mock Draft (top 10 picks)
Tuesday - Holiday Wish List For All 119 Teams

Wednesday - Chizik, Gill, & the Race Card
Friday - Why Paterno isn't too old

Past Whimsies
- 2008 Season
2008 Preseason Cavalcade
- 2007 Season
- 2006 Season

- 10 Reasons Why Oklahoma Will Win

If today's blurb sucks, it’s not my fault ... I have no chance to win because now Tebow is allegedly even more motivated because he came in third in the Heisman voting.

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Ten reasons why Florida will win the national title.

10. The time off ... part one
There's a long, long, looooong time between the end of the regular season and the BCS Championship Game. It's been over a month since Florida and Oklahoma each won their respective conference title games, and while that allows time for some players to heal, and overall the time off is normally a positive, it can also cool off the hot team. Florida beat Alabama in a war, while Oklahoma coasted over the second half of its season and rolled over Missouri. If this game was played on December 13th, a week after the conference title games, then Oklahoma would still have all the pistons firing. However, the practice time still doesn't take the place of live action, and while the Sooners are taking a different attitude for this year's bowl, it's impossible to replicate the timing. If OU's timing is just a wee bit off, it could mean everything.

9. The time off ... part two
Which coaching staff would you rather have with a month to prepare? Oklahoma's offense isn't a gimmick in any way; it's really that good. However, it's one thing to have a week to try to figure out what the Sooners are doing, and it's another to have a whole month to come up with new wrinkles to confuse and confound. Few offenses were hotter than Georgia Tech's at the end of the regular season, but the rushing attack wasn't nearly as precise against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, with the Tigers having a lot to do with that. Ole Miss had a month to prepare for Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl, and its defense came through fine. A month off allows the Florida coaches to come up with a few extra wrinkles and allows time to find more trends and tendencies. Just ask the Ohio State team that got shut down cold by the Gators in the 2007 BCS Championship Game.

8. The Big 12
The SEC has had its big-time down moments this bowl season (South Carolina vs. Iowa and Alabama vs. Utah), and the Texas showdown against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl is tonight, but for the most part, the Big 12 has had a rough post-season. As it turns out, the South really might not play any defense as Texas Tech couldn't handle Ole Miss in the Cotton and Oklahoma State got rolled over by Oregon in the Holiday. Considering how poor Missouri looked in the Alamo Bowl against a Northwestern team with far less talent, the Big 12 might not be quite what everyone thought it was. Of course, Nebraska was strong against Clemson in the Gator and Kansas blew out Minnesota in the Insight, and OU had no problems beating either of those two, so there's no reason to dog the Big 12 too much, but it's just possible that the league really can't play any defense.

7. Heisman winners and the No. 1 team
Never mess with a streak. For whatever reason, be it the extra motivation, the extra distractions, getting fat and lazy on the rubber chicken circuit, etc., Heisman winners struggle in bowl games and the No. 1 team usually has a big problem. Don't forget that Ohio State, not LSU, was No. 1 going into last year's title game. Ohio State was No. 2 and Miami No. 1 in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. No. 2 LSU beat No. 1 Oklahoma in the 2004 Sugar. No. 2 Texas won the 2006 Rose, No. 2 Florida won the 2007 BCS Championship, and LSU won last year. The lone aberration in recent years was USC's blowout over Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange. The Heisman winners have also had issues in the bowls. Tebow's Florida team lost to Michigan last year, Troy Smith and Ohio State got blown out by Florida, Reggie Bush, Jason White, Eric Crouch, and Chris Weinke all won the Heisman and all lost their bowl games since 2000. The two exceptions were the USC quarterbacks, Carson Palmer vs. Iowa and Matt Leinart vs. Oklahoma.

6. The 2008 Fiesta Bowl, the 2007 Fiesta Bowl ...
There was a time when Oklahoma was the biggest bad boy on the block; there's a reason Bob Stoops was called Big Game Bob. But as soon as Mike Stoops left the coaching staff to take over at Arizona, the team has had a problem with the late season big non-regular season games, starting with the stunning 35-7 loss to Kansas State in the 2003 Big 12 Championship. OU went on to lose to LSU in the national title. The following year came the big clunker, a 55-19 loss to USC in the Orange Bowl. The 17-14 win over Oregon in the 2005 Holiday was solid, but two years ago came the loss to Boise State after an inexplicable start, and then, supposedly fully focused, West Virginia won in a walk in last years, Fiesta Bowl. Oklahoma has to prove it can handle the biggest and brightest of spotlights.

5. Florida can score, too
Everyone knows all about the Oklahoma offense and how potent it is, but it's not like Florida has been struggling for points, finishing third in the nation averaging over 45 per outing. While there was a 70-point performance against Citadel to pad the stat sheet, in the last eight games since the Ole Miss loss the offense has gotten better and better averaging 51 points per game. Florida's O is almost perfectly balanced averaging 230 yards rushing and 213 passing per game, and it's ultra-efficient finishing just behind OU and Texas and Tulsa in passing efficiency. While the game plan vs. Alabama was Tebow, Tebow, Tebow, Percy Harvin is back in the mix now to go along with the other weapons and the coaching staff's disposal that went unused in the SEC title game. In other words, Florida has the talent to keep up in a shootout.

4. Special teams
The loss of OU star RB DeMarco Murray is hardly a killer for the running game that's still loaded with talent, but losing his skills as a kickoff returner, averaging close to 28 yards per return. Juaquin Iglesias and Mossis Madu should be fine, but the rest of the OU special teams have been a problem. The kickoff coverage team has been lousy, there hasn't been a lot of pop on punt returns, and the punting game has hardly been special. On the flip side, Florida might have the best special teams in America with PK Jonathan Phillips turning in a great year, hitting 11-of-12 field goals, and with Brandon James averaging 14.14 yards per punt return and 23.69 yards per kickoff return. Overall, Florida is 8th in the nation in punting and 7th in punt returns.

3. Don't poke the bear ... don't poke the bear
If you need every motivation for the national championship, you're in trouble. However, at the collegiate level, having a rallying point seems to matter more when it comes to momentum than it does in most other sports, and Florida has one. If Oklahoma CB Dominique Franks wasn't going to be picked on before, he will be now after saying Tim Tebow wouldn't be among the top three quarterbacks from the Big 12 South. Franks went on to gab about how the best receivers and tight ends come from the Big 12. Forgetting that he might actually be right on all fronts, when players start to squawk before game of this magnitude, they tend to face ultra-motivated players intending on beating the offender. Florida might not be any more fired up to beat OU because of Franks comments, but Gators might want to do more to beat Franks. The Gators have their focal point on defense to pick on.

2. The offensive line factor
Tebow has a lot to do with making the offensive line looks decent, he doesn't go down easily and he helps out the rushing stats, but the Gator front five really is good. It's not as good as Oklahoma's offensive line, but it paved the way for the SEC's best rushing offense and allowed a mere 16 sacks on the year. The Gator defensive front has already had to deal with some elite offensive lines, with LSU's full of future NFL starters and Alabama's, when it had Andre Smith at left tackle, as good as any in America. While the Tide line dominated on a key second half drive in the SEC title game, the suspect (at least at the time) Gator defensive front, with concerns about the depth at defensive tackle, held up well. Now the line has had time to heal and get the spring back in its step, and it should give the OU front all it can handle. The Sooners have faced two teams with elite defensive lines: TCU and Texas. Brian Orakpo came up with two of UT's three sacks in the win, while the Horned Frogs got four sacks and eight tackles for loss, meaning the two teams came up with seven of the 11 sacks allowed by the Sooners. While TCU lost, the 35 points allowed tied Texas for the fewest given up to OU. Florida doesn't have an elite pass rush, but it got better as the year went on with four in each of the final three regular season games. The Gators should be able to generate consistent pressure on Bradford, even if they don't come up with a slew of sacks.

1. De-fense (clap, clap), De-fense (clap, clap)
The Florida defense might be young, but it's extremely athletic and it's very, very good. The secondary hasn't allowed more than two touchdowns in any game this year and it hasn't given up a 300-yard passing day despite facing the new Arkansas passing attack, Georgia's Matthew Stafford, South Carolina's passing game, and the efficient John Parker Wilson of Alabama. No, it's not like getting through the Big 12 South, but this secondary really is good. Brandon Spikes leads a lightning-fast linebacking corps that has helped allow just 105 rushing yards per game. TCU has the best defense the Sooners have seen all season long, but it didn't have the support of the offense. Florida does. The Gators finished the year eighth in the nation in total defense, fourth in scoring defense, 16th in pass defense, 15th in run defense, and second in pass efficiency defense. If Oklahoma wins this game, it'll have earned it.