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BCS CHAMPIONSHIP
BCS Title Game History
Ohio State (12-0)
Schedule/Results / Bowl History
Florida (12-1)
Schedule/Results / Bowl History
Location: Glendale, Arizona
Date: Monday, January 8
Time: 8:00 pm EST
TV: Fox

Game Preview

by Mike Mitchell

51 days after Ohio State secured its berth, and 37 days after Florida played its last game, the 9th national champion of the BCS era will be crowned at this year's newly-created BCS Championship (which, if you think about it, means that we're calling this game the "Bowl Championship Series Championship". Hmmm, just a little redundant).

The championship game each year will be played in addition to the four major bowls - Fiesta, Orange, Rose, Sugar - but will rotate annually to one of those four sites. The Fiesta Bowl hosting site gets the game this year so, in essence, this is Fiesta Bowl - Part 2.

As you recall, there was great concern about whether Michigan or Florida should play Ohio State for the title. Ohio State was unbeaten, No. 2 USC had just been upset by UCLA on December 2, and Michigan had been defeated by Ohio State in their last game on November 18.

When the final BCS Standings were released on December 3, Florida had leapt over Michigan by a slim margin to arrange this showdown between the 12-1 Gators and the 12-0 Buckeyes.

Michigan has since been defeated, 32-18, by USC in the Rose Bowl. Boise State, the nation's only other undefeated team - which was left completely out of national championship consideration - beat Oklahoma 43-42 in the Fiesta Bowl in overtime.

Regardless of what controversy any of the above developments may have created , this game IS the championship. Florida or Ohio State will be crowned as college footballs' kings of 2006.

Florida played ten bowl teams during the regular season with its only loss coming against Auburn, winners of the Cotton Bowl. Ohio State played six bowl teams.

The Buckeyes rank 7th nationally in points scored with 36.3 per game, and rank 2nd on defense with just 10.4 points allowed per game.

Florida averaged only 28.8 points per game on offense, but ranked 6th in points allowed with 13.5. The Gators allowed just 74.5 yards rushing per game to rank 6th in that category as well.

Don't think it's that easy to pass on the Gators, either. Though they allowed 194.3 passing yards per game to rank next-to-last in the SEC, Ryan Smith picked off 8 passes and Reggie Nelson nabbed 6.

The Buckeyes allowed 179.5 yards per game through the air but their Bronco Nagurski award-winning linebacker, James Laurinatis, added 5 interceptions to his 4 sacks. His 100 tackles was 34 more than the number-two tackler on the team.

Offensively, Ohio State features quarterback Troy Smith, the winner of the Heisman Trophy who was also named AP Player Of the Year and Walter Camp Foundation Player Of the Year.

Smith 's QB rating of 167.87 ranks him 4th nationally. He completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,507 yards, 30 TD's and just 5 INT's.

With Smith under center, the Buckeyes have won 19 straight games. Their last loss came at Penn State on October 8, 2005.

Smith's favorite target is his former high school buddy, and the more-recruited player of the two, Ted Ginn, Jr. As a junior, the flanker has 59 catches for 781 yards and 9 touchdowns. Anthony Gonzalez is a close second in yardage with 723 on 49 receptions and 8 touchdowns.

Though much of the talk has focused on Smith and Ginn, you can be certain that Florida won't overlook Ohio State running back Antonio Pittman. The Buckeye junior had 1,171 yards and 13 TD's in the 2006 regular season, and he has a two-year total of 2,502.

Chris Wells added 567 yards to Ohio State's rushing totals, and scored 7 TD's.

For Florida, the hype surrounds the "two-headed" quarterback that Urban Meyer has employed with much success.

Chris Leak is the starter and his numbers support that role. He has completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 2,729 yards, 22 TD's and 13 INT's.

Freshman Tim Tebow has been used strategically to compliment the offense and confuse opposing defenses. On just 79 rushing attempts, Tebow produced 430 yards to rank 2nd on the team, and 7 rushing TD's to rank 1st. He also threw for 357 yards and 4 TD's with just 1 INT while completing 21-of-32 passes (65.6 percent).

The leading rusher is DeShawn Wynn who has endured knee and shoulder injuries this year and ended the season with just one carry against Florida State. But Wynn is reportedly healthy and ready to go after totaling 630 inconsistent yards during the season. Early in the year, he topped the 100-yard mark in back-to-back games against Tennessee and Kentucky, but he ran for 50 yards or less in all but one of the final 9 games (90 vs. South Carolina). The knee injury kept him out of the LSU game. The self-avowed Michigan fan grew up in Cincinnati.

Percy Harvin had 406 yards rushing on 36 carries, and 367 yards receiving on 25 catches.

Dallas Baker and Andre Caldwell lead the receivers. Baker caught 56 balls for 897 yards and 9 TD's. Caldwell had 571 yards on 55 catches and scored 5 touchdowns.

The Gators' last, and only, national championship came in 1996 when they defeated arch-rival Florida State 52-20 in a rematch of a game they lost at the end of the regular season.

Ohio State has won three national titles outright and shared two others.

Ohio State beat Miami in 2002 for the national championship in Jim Tressel's second season. Florida fans are hoping Meyer can do the same thing for the Gators in his second season as head coach in Gainesville.