Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Florida Win Bowl Championship Series

Florida pounded top-ranked Ohio State 41-14 to prove the critics wrong and clinch the Bowl Championship Series final on Monday.

Seeking their second national championship in five years under coach Jim Tressel, Ohio State headed into the clash in Glendale, Arizona as favourites but went out wondering what happened.

The Buckeyes entered averaging 36.3 points and 410 yards of offense but managed just one offensive touchdown and 82 total yards.

The Gators (13-1) overcame an opening kick-off return by Ted Ginn Jr and hounded Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith into one of the worst games of his career.

Ginn's return gave the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead just seconds into the game, but the Gators responded with 21 consecutive points and held a 34-14 lead at the halfway stage. Ohio State did not mount a threat after the break.

Smith, who was a member of the scout team that helped Ohio State stun Miami to win the national championship in the Fiesta Bowl four years ago, had a woeful final collegiate contest, completing just 4-of-14 passes for 35 yards and an interception. He also lost a fumble.

"We came out. We fought," Smith said. "If we come up short and you know this is the worst thing that happens in life to us, then I'm pretty cool.

"But, you know, the other guys, my seniors, I want to apologise to them because I wasn't able to send them out on the right note. And I think I could have played better."

Smith earned the Heisman Trophy after completing 67% of his passes for 2,507 yards and 30 touchdowns with just five interceptions.

While Smith struggled, Leak made his final game as a collegian one to remember. He was 25-of-36 for 213 yards and a touchdown. True freshman Tim Tebow also ran and threw for a touchdown.

Florida last won the national championship in 1996 under Steve Spurrier with a 52-20 triumph over Florida State. This is the first time Florida has simultaneously held the national titles in both men's basketball and football.

"Everybody stepped up tonight," said Gators defensive end Derrick Harvey, who tied a BCS game record with three sacks.

"It took a lot of time and preparation to be able to stop a team that is as good as Ohio State. Everybody came out and played as hard as they could and that is why we are national champions."


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