Thursday, January 8, 2009

Florida: From 2 to 6 Point Favorite, Why?

Over the past 3 weeks, #2 Florida has gradually become more of a favorite, now close to a touchdown over #1 Oklahoma. Usually, "someone knows something" when the line shifts this drastically. In this case, the lack of success of recent Heisman trophy winners in bowl games and the struggles of the Big 12 in this bowl season are the main reasons behind the line movement. Heisman trophy winners have struggled in high-profile games, with the lone exception of Carson Palmer at USC. Think back to Reggie Bush losing to Texas, Jason White falling to USC, and even Tim Tebow losing to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl last year. Also, there is a distinct divide between the coaches, Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer. Stoops has struggled in big games as of late, losing to West Virginia and Boise State as huge favorites in the 2007 and 2008 Fiesta Bowls. Meanwhile, if Urban Meyer wins tonight, he will ascend to the throne of the sport as the top coach, winning 2 out of 3 national championships. While one may still wonder about his future, specifically that out-clause to Notre Dame, Meyer has had more success than Pete Carroll, Bob Stoops, and Mack Brown in the last four years.

While Oklahoma has a record-setting offense, Sooner fans should be concerned about their defense. Overall, the defenses of Big 12 teams have not slowed down opponents in this bowl season and their offenses have not put up the kind of points they did during conference play. For instance, Missouri struggled with Northwestern only winning 30-23 in OT in the Alamo Bowl. Texas Tech was beaten soundly by Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl. Sure, Kansas won the Insight Bowl, but that was against a terrible Minnesota team that likely should not have been invited to a bowl game to begin with. Oklahoma State could not move the ball in 8 of 10 possessions in 2nd half of the Holiday Bowl, losing to heavy underdog Oregon. Finally, Texas was shut down in the Fiesta Bowl, trailing 21-17 to Ohio State with 2 minutes left in the game and gave up a ton of rushing yardage to the Buckeyes. All in all, the prolific offenses of the Big 12 have not put up big numbers in bowl games. Special teams is also a major problem for OU and I guarantee that Oklahoma gives up a special teams TD tonight, either from a kickoff or punt. The presence of the coach (Meyer), the QB (Tebow), and the league (SEC) all point towards Florida tonight. Coverage begins at 7:30pm tonight on the FOX. This is the last year that FOX will broadcast the BCS National Championship game, as coverage for the title game shifts to ABC in 2010.

Prediction: Florida 42 Oklahoma 24

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