Monday, January 08, 2007

Florida vs Ohio State. Bring On The BCS Title Game!

So, you might have heard that there's a football game being played this evening. Just a little contest between the Florida Gators and the Ohio State Buckeyes(that's right, I refuse to capitalize "the").

Anyway, most of the "experts" are picking the Buckeyes to win the game, some by a close margin and others by a blowout. Obviously, the piece of paper hanging on my wall from that wonderful degree granting institution in Gainesville makes me a bit biased, but I see this game as being very winnable for the Gators. They've got a battle tested, and very fast, defense. And eventhough the offense has looked marginal at best for much of the season, if Chris Leak and Co. can put up points through all four quarters, then Florida should be in good shape.

The hottest "topics" of discussion heading into this game are(in no particular order):

*Troy Smith: Can he be effective against the speedy Florida defense? Will he beat the Gators with his feet? He's been one of the best QB's in the country this season, and seems poised to lead OSU to a victory.

*The Gators Defense: Are they really that fast at all 11 defensive positions? Can they match up when OSU spreads the field? Florida's secondary has improved all year, and Reggie Nelson will be watched all game by Smith and his receivers. Ryan Smith has become a good corner, and hopefully Reggie Lewis will play up to his ability as well. The D-line and LB's and capable of pressuring Smith and stopping Pittman.

*The Gators Offense: Can they score points? Will Chris Leak take care of the ball? Can Percy Harvin break some big plays? The offense has a ton of talent, though the O-line has been shaky at some points throughout the season. They have to give Chris Leak time to throw the ball. I have a feeling that DeShawn Wynn is going to surprise a number of people by having a big game.

*The OSU Offense: Can Ginn, Gonzalez, Robiskie, etc. find holes in the UF defense? Can they beat them down the field? How well the OSU offense plays will depend a lot on how much pressure Florida is able to bring. Against a good OSU O-line and a mobile QB like Troy Smith it could be difficult.

My "wildcard" aspect. For the last three weeks much of the talk has been about Troy Smith, Antonio Pittman, Chris Leak, Percy Harvin, etc. However, I think that the biggest contribution will come from a player who's been sort of under the radar.

Brandon James.

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Brandon James returns a punt 77 yards for a TD against Western Carolina.

All season long, the Florida special teams punt return unit has shown an ability to open up holes for the speedy James. His shorter stature plays to his advantage because when he gets low it's hard for defenders to locate him until he's through the hole and on his way to the endzone.

The Buckeyes have only defended eleven punts all season, and rank 55th in the country in yards allowed per punt return(8.27yds). All it takes is for one missed tackle, and Brandon James will be waiting in the end zone for his teammates to catch up.

All in all, it should be a good game, and I expect the Gators to pull out another close one like they've done all season.

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