Florida knocks off No. 1 Alabama, heading to national championship game

Florida-AlabamaPerhaps no team in college football has played better over past two months than Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. And thanks to their impressive 31-20 victory over No. 1 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday, Tebow and the Gators will head to Miami to play in college football’s national title game on January 8.

In the end, the Crimson Tide didn’t have enough offensive firepower to knock off Urban Meyer’s Gators, who just had too many players to control. The started to wear down the Gator defense in the third quarter, but couldn’t muster any points in the fourth and it wound up being their pitfall. The stout ‘Bama defense couldn’t contain Tebow, either, who threw for 216 yards and three touchdowns, including a five-yard scoring pass to Riley Cooper with 2:50 remaining in the game, which turned out to be the nail in the coffin.

It’s hard to place blame on running back Glen Coffee, who rushed for 112 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown, but QB John Parker Wilson couldn’t come up with enough big plays throughout the course of the game. He threw for just 177 yards and outside of a 64-yard pass to Julio Jones in the first quarter, Wilson struggled throwing vertically against an extremely fast Florida defense.

What’s amazing is that Florida scored 31 points against a fantastic Alabama defense and did so without Percy Harvin, who is their most explosive playmaker. The Gators’ win is truly a testament to how good this team is to knock off a previously undefeated Tide program, which had stifled their opponent’s offenses all season.

And does Tim Tebow get thrown back into the Heisman discussion after this game? The Big 12 quartbacks – Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford and Graham Harrell – have been impressive, but Tebow has been on an absolute tear and in the biggest game of the season, he produced. His leadership, determination and heart have also been unrivaled this year.This is why college football should wait until after the championship game is played to crown the Heisman winner, because what if Tebow outshines Bradford or McCoy yet one of those two Big 12 QBs win the award? It’s kind of ridiculous not to wait until the BCS bowl games are played to crown a Heisman winner.

So Florida is in (assuming of course that the BCS doesn’t screw things up, which of course is still a major possibility), and will await the result of the Big 12 Championship Game. If Oklahoma beats Missouri, it’ll be the Gators and the Sooners in the national title game. If MIZZOU produces a massive upset, than all hell breaks loose and college football fans will pray all of the BCS’ computers explode and mass chaos ensues.

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The Official Alabama-Florida Prediction Thread

All right, most of us know that predictions are worthless in sports. Nobody really knows what will happen, even if we think we do.

But predictions are also fun and with this being championship week in college football, I thought it would be fun for everybody to throw out some game predictions on the Alabama-Florida game. It can be a full a full game analysis or just a score projection – it’s up to you.

I’ll walk onto the dance floor first:

Perhaps no team in college football is playing better than the Gators are right now. They’re outscoring opponents by an average of 24 points per game, own the top turnover margin in the nation and since their loss to Ole’ Miss in late September, have destroyed teams by a 414 to 97 margin.

But this game will come down to defense, which just so happens to be ‘Bama’s specialty. The Tide are allowing just 11.5 points per game and less than 250 total yards. Their defensive front four is one of the best in the nation and as a unit, the ‘Bama defense is the sixth best in all of college football.

For as well as Florida has played since losing to the Rebels, this won’t be a walk in the park like some purists believe. ‘Bama isn’t undefeated by accident and although they had a few close calls throughout the year, that will only help them if this SEC Championship Game turns out to be the dogfight many expect. The key will be whether or not Alabama can produce enough offense to win. Their running game is solid with Glen Coffee, but they’re going to have an incredibly hard time putting the ball in the air against a UF team that is allowing just 172.9 yards per game this season.

Prediction time – I’m taking Florida. The Gators just have too many weapons (assuming Percy Harvin plays) and Tim Tebow makes things happen around the goal line. This won’t be a blowout, but Florida’s defense should contain John Parker Wilson and the ‘Bama passing attack, although they might have trouble keeping Coffee contain because the Tide can dominant the line of scrimmage at times.

Florida 24, Alabama 21. The Gators win, but the Tide cover the spread. ‘Bama is 5-0 against the spread in their last five games and have covered the last five times in this matchup. I’ll take the gift 10-points from oddsmakers, especially considering ‘Bama could win outright.

SEC Championship Game is going to be wild

Alabama Crimson TideNot even their rivals could slow down Alabama or Florida. The Crimson Tide rolled to a 36-0 victory over Auburn, while the Gators trounced Florida State 45-15 in Tallahassee on Saturday.

Even before their victories on Saturday, the two teams were set to meet in the SEC Championship Game, which will be played December 6. But their performances did add an air of intrigue to the SEC’s title game, because both teams looked so dominant against two squads in Auburn and FSU that are no pushovers.

Perhaps the best matchup in the SEC Championship Game will be ‘Bama’s defensive line vs. Florida’s massive offensive line. The Tide’s front four gives most teams fits, but the Gators certainly have the bodies up front to keep Tim Tebow upright. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not ‘Bama can get enough pressure to get Tebow out of rhythm. Another thing to keep an eye on is how healthy Florida wideout Percy Harvin will be after he left the FSU game due to an injury. He’s been such a huge part of Florida’s offense this year that it would be a huge blow not to have him in the lineup.

As of this post, the Big 12 Championship has not been determined, but an argument could be made that the SEC title game will provide the better matchup.

College Football Week 14 Primer

Top 25 vs. Top 25:
Oklahoma State CowboysNo. 3 Oklahoma at. No. 12 Oklahoma State, 8:00 PM ET
The Sooners’ dismantling of Texas Tech last Saturday might have been the most impressive victory of the college football season. Not only did they win 65-21, but they did so in compiling 32 first downs and 625 yards of offense. They finished one yard shy of rushing for 300 yards and threw for 326 threw the air. They didn’t let up for 60 minutes and now have put themselves in striking distance of playing for a national championship. They’ve got a couple of huge hurdles left, however, and one is this Saturday night in Stillwater. The hardest part for Bob Stoops this Saturday will be getting his team back up after playing such an emotionally-charged game last week. The Cowboys are also coming off a week of rest and their offense has been balanced and potent at times this year. Led by quarterback Sam Bradford, Oklahoma has one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. But OK State won’t be a pushover and we can probably expect a tight contest.

No. 4 Florida at No. 20 Florida State, 3:30 PM ET
I know this is a huge rivalry in the sunshine state, but no team is playing better than Florida is right now. FSU’s win over Maryland last week was impressive and they have the fifth best defense in the nation, but can anyone slow down Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin right now? Bobby Bowden will have his team fired up – especially at home. But nobody should be surprised if this is another Florida romp as they get ready for Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. The only thing that might deter the Gators is if they get caught looking ahead, but the chances are slim that Urban Meyer allows that to happen.

No. 22 Georgia Tech at No. 11 Georgia, 12:00 PM ET
The Bulldogs have fallen a long way since being crowned as the top team in the nation in the preseason. Not only have they dropped in the rankings, but their wins over Auburn and Kentucky the past couple weeks left something to be desired. The Jackets have bounced back well after they were awfully mistake-prone in a loss against North Carolina a few weeks ago, and they get a Georgia defense that has struggled of late. Even though Tech hasn’t won against UGA since 2000, the Jackets want to use this game as a stepping-stone to build on next season. Much like most of these rivalry games this weekend, this should be a close one.

Oregon State Beavers
No. 23 Oregon at No. 17 Oregon State, 7:00 PM ET
This is obviously a massive game for the Beavers, as a win would clinch their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1964. The only problem is that they’re facing a better-than-advertised Oregon team and they might not have dynamic underclassmen Jacquizz Rodgers, who injured his shoulder on the final play against Arizona last week. Oregon State has the better overall depth and talent, but the Ducks are balanced and it would make their season to knock off their in-state rivals on their home field – especially with a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line.

Upset Watch:
It’s rivalry week – every game should be considered a possible upset.

Other notable games:
Texas A&M at No. 2 Texas, 8:00 PM ET Friday
The Longhorns can’t afford a slip up, but it’s doubtful Mack Brown’s team falters at home against the Aggies.

Auburn at No. 1 Alabama, 3:30 PM ET
The Tide control their own destiny – beat the Tigers on Saturday and the Gators in the SEC Championship Game and they’ll be playing for a national championship. The idea is simple, but the road is going to be brutal. Auburn might be 2-5 in the SEC, but they still have one of the better defenses in college football.

Fresno State at No. 9 Boise State, 6:00 PM ET
BCS supporters will quietly be rooting for Fresno State so they don’t have to hear about how the Broncos deserve a shot to play for the national championship.

OU crushes Tech – BCS standings turned upside down

In one of the most lopsided games of the 2008 college football season, No. 5 Oklahoma waxed No. 2 Texas Tech 65-21 on Saturday night, essentially proving that the Red Raiders were a tad overrated.

I loved Tech going into this game and backed them as a team that still wasn’t getting enough credit. I even bought into the small hype that they should be the No. 1 team in the nation instead of Alabama. Apparently was wrong, like, way wrong.

This wasn’t just a bad night for the Raiders – the Sooners were just flat out better in every phase of the game. It was easy to see that OU was going to put up some points. Not only is the Sooner offense one of the best in the nation under Heisman hopeful Sam Bradford (14 of 19 for 304 yards, 4 TDs), but the Tech defense is also nonexistent.

But for the Sooner defense to hold Tech to only 21 points is simply amazing. No team in the nation (besides maybe OU) was running its offense better and more efficiently than the Raiders were. And OU made Tech look like they were in their first spring practice of the year.

This obviously throws a massive kink in the BCS rankings, which is fantastic for fans that want a playoff in college football. What team is the best in the nation? Can you honestly say it’s Alabama? Can you honestly say it’s not Oklahoma? What about Texas, who, oh-by-the-way beat Oklahoma earlier this year but lost to Tech on the final play of the game. What about Florida? The Gators lost Ole’ Miss, but are playing their best football of the season right now and have a date with ‘Bama in the SEC Championship Game coming up.

The BCS is getting what it deserves with OU’s win – complete anarchy. Everything is a mess right now and their little computers don’t have a clear-cut answer (not that they ever do). A playoff would be absolutely great for a season like this.

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