No. 1 Florida Beat No. 2 Oklahoma For BCS Title

Thursday, January 8th 2009, 11:57 pm
By: News On 6

Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) -- Tim Tebow enjoyed the battering-ram runs. He liked the old-school jump pass.

Drawing a rare penalty, that really made Tebow's day.

With No. 1 Florida about to finish off No. 2 Oklahoma 24-14 for the BCS championship Thursday night, Tebow was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"I didn't trash talk or say anything, but I did the Gator chomp," he said. "I was pretty excited. Just gave it a little Gator chomp, and it was also for the fans."

The rough-and-tumble style won't satisfy fans of Utah, Southern California and Texas, who were all hoping to claim the top spot.

No matter to the Gators. They finished far ahead of the Utes in the final Associated Press poll Friday, receiving 48 of 65 first-place votes. Utah got 16 firsts and USC drew one.

"I'll tell you, we're going to enjoy a big win, we're going to enjoy the national championship," coach Urban Meyer said. "Let someone else worry about that. Gators are No. 1."

Tebow outplayed Sam Bradford in a matchup of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks, Percy Harvin ran wild and the Gators made two goal line stands against the highest scoring team in modern history.

Florida (13-1) won its third national title overall, and gave the Southeastern Conference its third straight championship.

Oklahoma (12-2) lost its fifth BCS game in a row, including three when playing for the national title.

"In the end, I'll be glad to try again next year," coach Bob Stoops said. "If that's the biggest burden I have to bear in my life, I'm a pretty lucky guy."

The Sooners scored 702 points this season and put up at least 60 in their last five games, yet their no-huddle offense never found its rhythm against the Gators.

"In the second half when we needed to make plays, we just couldn't do it," Bradford said.

Bradford's second TD pass to Jermaine Gresham made it 14-all early in the fourth quarter.

Tebow shook off two early interceptions -- matching his season total -- and drove the Gators to the clinching score. He took two hard steps toward the line, jumped and zipped a 4-yard touchdown pass to David Nelson with 3:07 left.

Tebow carried the ball on Florida's final six plays, smashing into the line five times. He also accidentally bowled into an official in the closing seconds.

"I felt bad. I had to help him put his shoe back on and everything," Tebow said.

Tebow ran 22 times for 109 yards and completed 18 of 30 passes. He added to the title he helped the Gators win in 2006 with a rout of Ohio State and, one season after winning the Heisman, brought home another trophy.

"I wanted to do whatever I could to help my team win this game, and if I was trying to run and run some people over, to get the crowd into it, to get the momentum, then that was what I was going to try to do," he said.

"They were doing a good job of getting to me and trying to get some licks, but I felt my body was able to withstand it," he said.

Tebow figures to soon decide whether he'll come back for his senior season or enter the NFL draft.

"Tebow, just call him Superman," Harvin said.

Bradford was a disappointing 26-for-41 with two interceptions. Like Tebow, he's going to explore his potential for the NFL draft -- not exactly off the performance he wanted.

Certainly several of the 33 bowls that preceded this game were more riveting, and this outcome might prompt many in the college football world to join President-elect Barack Obama's calls for a playoff system.

These teams totaled an average of 99 points per game, but wound up with a scoreless first quarter. In the second quarter, Florida's defense made a pair of goal line stands that left it 7-all at halftime.

Harvin returned from an ankle injury and dashed for 122 yards on only nine carries. His 52-yard gallop set up Jonathan Phillips' 27-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter for a 17-14 lead.

Cheered on by a flock of fans that made the five-hour drive from The Swamp in Gainesville, the Gators became the second team in the 11-year history of the BCS to win two titles.

The Gators won the 1996 crown when Stoops was their defensive coordinator under Steve Spurrier. Stoops later turned down a chance to become coach at Florida, and Meyer moved in from Utah.

Both teams seemed to have trouble with the game officials. The crew kept interrupting play for various reasons, and the result was a slow start. Stoops and Meyer took turns hollering at ACC referee Ron Cherry, as if to tell him "Let 'em play!"

Tebow, naturally, came out charged up.

He got off the team bus, walked over to a clutch of Florida fans, waved his arms and then ripped off his tie and threw it into a bunch of tailgaters -- tail-Gators, in this case.

By the time Tebow trotted out for warm-ups, most of the Gators were already kneeling along the goal line to stretch. Tebow walked up and down the line, slapping hands and backsides of all 90-some players.