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National Championship Prediction

College Football News - Florida to face Ohio State in national title game
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Glendale, AZ (My Sportsbook) - It all comes down to one final game, as the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes and second-ranked Florida Gators meet for the BCS National Championship, being played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Urban Meyer's Florida squad is a stellar 12-1 on the year and won the SEC championship with a 38-28 win over Arkansas in the league's title tilt.

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The Gators, who are celebrating their 100th year of collegiate competition and are 2-1 in previous BCS bowl games, are playing in their 16th straight bowl, but this is their first appearance in the BCS championship game. If Meyer's club wins here, he will become only the sixth coach in major college history to win the national title in just his first or second year at the helm.

Ironically, one of the coaches on that list is Ohio State's Jim Tressel, whose Buckeyes won it all in 2002. Having recently won their third Big Ten crown in the last six years, OSU is riding the crest of a 19-game win streak, 14 of which come against Big Ten competition. The Buckeyes, who went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the land this season, are 4-0 all-time in BCS bowl games and topped Miami-Florida in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl to win the national championship.

This game marks the first-ever meeting between Florida and Ohio State on the gridiron.

Not quite the offensive juggernaut of seasons past, this year's Florida club averaged just under 30 ppg while falling just shy of 400 total ypg. Not exactly figures to sneeze at, but not among the national leaders and thus, there were some who thought perhaps the team had underachieved. However, 12 wins in 13 tries is certainly impressive and with the QB tandem of Chris Leak and Tim Tebow leading the way, the UF offense certainly did enough to warrant the team's appearance in this championship game. With both signal callers completing better than 62 percent of their passes, the Gators were able to march up and down the field against some of the tougher defensive teams in the country. Leak saw the bulk of the action, throwing for 2,729 yards, 22 TDs and 13 INTs, while Tebow was a change of pace guy who threw four TDs against only one pick and finished second on the team in rushing with 460 yards and a club-best seven TDs. The team's top options down the field are Dallas Baker and Andre Caldwell, and the two have combined for 111 catches, 1,468 yards and 14 TDs. The UF ground assault features the talents of not only Tebow, but also DeShawn Wynn, who earned 630 yards and five scores.

The Florida defense is the primary reason the team has enjoyed as much success as it has this year, as foes are scoring just 13.5 ppg and generating a mere 268.8 yards of total offense. The Gators have been particularly strong against the run, yielding just 74.5 ypg and only seven TDs. Earl Everett is the team's leading tackler to this point, having logged 78 total stops, while Brandon Siler is close behind with 73 tackles, nine of which were made behind the line of scrimmage. Derrick Harvey led the team in TFLs with 10, and he was credited with eight of the team's 29 sacks. The defensive backfield duo of Ryan Smith and Reggie Nelson are arguably the best in the nation as they combined to pick off an astounding 14 passes while also securing 102 total tackles.

The Gators will need to be at their best in all facets of the game as they take on an Ohio State club that is as well-rounded as any team in recent memory.

Led by 2006 Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, the Ohio State offense has been highly efficient and extremely explosive. A 67 percent passer who threw for 2,507 yards, 30 TDs and only five INTs during the regular season, Smith is as poised a quarterback as there is in the country. His ability to make big plays and run the offense with control and precision has the Buckeyes riding high atop the college football world. Smith has plenty of talented specialists with which to look to, particularly receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez. Ginn Jr. is the team's top pass catcher with 59 grabs for 781 yards and nine TDs, while Gonzalez checks in with 49 receptions, 723 yards and eight scores. Not to be overshadowed, the Buckeye rushing attack boasts the talents of RB Antonio Pittman, he of 1,171 yards and 13 TDs. An elusive runner, Pittman averaged 5.0 ypc and helped lead an Ohio State offense that averaged 36.3 points and 409.8 total yards per game.

What was thought to be the team's weak spot entering the season, the Ohio State defense has stood tall time and time again in 2006, and finished as one of the top units in the nation. Foes found it difficult to move the ball on the ground, doing so for just 93.5 ypg and only reaching the end zone six times. As a result, the Buckeyes ranked first in the country in scoring defense, allowing only 10.4 ppg. Butkus Award finalist James Laurinaitis led the OSU stand with 100 total tackles, and he also recorded four sacks and five INTs for good measure. A menace wherever he lines up, Laurinaitis must be accounted for on virtually every snap, much in the same way former OSU great A.J. Hawk had to be. Antonio Smith is another terrific Buckeye defender and he made 66 stops this year, including 10 behind the line of scrimmage. Vernon Gholston and Quinn Pitcock combined to post 15 of the team's Big Ten-best 37 sacks, and Malcolm Jenkins finished just one off the pace of the team lead in INTs with four.

On paper, Ohio State is the better team and the Buckeyes will likely find a way to win this game. Still, the Gators are talented, well coached and should be ready to play. In the end, Smith will lead his team to victory as OSU claims its second national title in the last four years.

My Sportsbook National Championship Prediction: Ohio State 31, Florida 21

Posted by MySportsbook January 4th, 2006, at 11:12 AM ET
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