Tag:BCS Championship
Posted on: January 9, 2009 1:55 am
Edited on: January 9, 2009 2:04 am

Florida's Black steals one from Oklahoma

His name won't show up on any MVP trophies and you won't see many No. 35 jerseys in the stands, but Florida's Ahmad Black made one of the biggest plays of the BCS National Championship game, helping the Gators claim its second title in the past three seasons.

With Florida clinging to a 17-14 lead early in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma's offense was on the move and looked like it might be in line to at least tie the game with a field goal.

Sam Bradford zipped a pass which was temporarily caught by Juaquin Iglesias down to the Florida 24, but before the sure-handed receiver could bring the ball in for his sixth catch of the night, Black snatched the ball out his hands to preserve the Gators' three-point lead.

Ahmad Black makes a huge interception against Oklahoma. (Getty)"It was one-on-one coverage," said Black. "I knew I had no safety help over the top. I knew I had to buckle down and keep my eyes on my man. He ran a post and I ran right with him. I saw the ball and just grabbed it."

The Gators took over at their own 24 with 9:59 remaining and 14 plays later scored on Tebow's famous jump pass, leaving the Sooners down 10 with just three minutes remaining.

"The play of the game was Ahmad Black snatching that ball away from the receiver. We're up by three and that's a potential go-ahead touchdown," said Florida coach Urban Meyer.

It's nothing new for Black and the Florida secondary, which recorded 24 interceptions this season, including a team-leading seven by Black.

"He's a ball hawk," said Joe Haden. "He's going to be around the ball all the time. Both of them had their hands on the ball and Black just took it away from him."

If Iglesias holds on to that ball it would have been the sixth time the Sooners got inside the Gators' 30 and would have changed the entire landscape of the final 10 minutes of the game.

"Juaquin has his hands on it, too, and the other guy has it, and they end up coming down and as they fall, he gets a better grip on the ball and there it is," said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. "You're in competitive games with other good teams, you're going to have those plays, and they didn't go our way."

Posted on: January 8, 2009 6:17 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2009 11:35 pm

BCS Championship In-game Blog

11:35 p.m. (3:07 left in the 4th):

Jump pass ... touchdown Gators ... game over. I'm heading down to the field.

11:32 p.m. (4:44 left in the 4th):

This is it. Florida has the ball inside the 20. If they score a touchdown, the game is over. Oklahoma must force a turnover or hold them to a field goal.

11:29 p.m. (7:19 left in the 4th):

Well Oklahoma didn't pass the first test -- 3rd and 12, Tebow rolled out and found a receiver for the first down. Time is winding down...

11:26 p.m. (9:37 left in the 4th):

Oklahoma's defense needs a stop now, they can't let Florida drive down the field and eat up all this clock. The secondary needs to put up or shut up right now.

11:23 p.m. (9:59 left in the 4th):

In what could be the play of the game, Florida Ahmad Black takes away the ball from Oklahoma receiver Juaquin Iglesias. It looked like the Sooners were going to have a big play and put them in field goal range, but Black just took it right out of Iglesias' hands. The Florida secondary has definitely had a big part in this game.

11:16 p.m. (10:45 left in the 4th):

Strange play on 3rd down. Tebow stopped for a second because he though he heard a whistle. Gators have to settle for a field goal, a 27-yarder from Phillips. That's not what the Gators wanted, because now Oklahoma can take the lead, but Florida clings to a 17-14 lead.

11:14 p.m. (11:12 left in the 4th):

Harvin is up and on the sideline. He wants back in there and here he comes.

11:10 p.m. (11:58 left in the 4th):

If Harvin is 90 percent, I'd hate to see him at 100 percent, because he just blew past the Oklahoma linebackers for a huge gain. He does it again and now he's down on the ground .. 118 yards rushing and 45 receiving, forget Tebow, Harvin is the Gators' MVP right now.

And he's still down...

11:06 p.m. (12:13 left in the 4th):

Gresham again and this game is tied. That's what I'm talking about. Let's have it tied up with 12 minutes to go and let's see who makes the play to win the game. That TD drive was mostly because of Chris Brown. His running and receiving were key to that drive. Win or lose, Brown is having a fantastic game.

11:00 p.m. (14:32 left in 4th):

Somebody who is having a very good game is Oklahoma's Chris Brown. Alot was made this week if he could handle the majority of the carries with DeMarco Murray gone. The answer is yes -- he heads into the fourth quarter with 90 yards on 17 carries.

10:55 p.m. ET (End of the third):

Ok....fourth quarter time. Both teams hold up four fingers, because its their quarter. I mean, it can't both be their quarter, so somebody is going to be lying.

10:51 p.m. ET (1:13 left in the third):

Bill Clinton on the jumbotron ... and booed.

10:48 p.m. ET (2:40 left in the third):

The Sooners are on the march with the no-huddle offense and quick passes, but now they are forced to go for a long field goal. Remember what I said in Stevens in practice. He was missing 49 and 52 yarders....This one is from 49 yards....AND ITS BLOCKED!

Special teams -- advantage Gators. That ball never got off the ground. That was the Gators ninth block this season -- a school record. Carlos Dunlap came flying off the end and blocked the field goal.

10:45 p.m. ET (4:15 left in the third):

I was just handed a sheet of paper from the media relations staff about all the former Gators here tonight, but this is my favorite one of all:

Other celebrites in attendance: A.J. Pierzynski. Since when is he a celebrity? Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, George Clooney are celebrites, not A.J. Pierzynski.

10:43 p.m. ET (4:21 left in the third):

Alright Oklahoma. If you got this great offense and can score on the Florida defense now would be the time. Because if you can't muster up a drive to put some points on the board, your backs are going to be up against the wall.

Time for that no-huddle offense that allowed you to march down the field before.

10:35 p.m. ET (7:11 left in the third):

Another Gators' offensive player hurt? Louis Murphy goes down in the end zone and the trainers are working on him. First Chris Rainey and now Murphy. Carl Moore would see more playing time if Murphy can't make it back into the game.

10:32 p.m. ET (9:04 left in the third):

Uh-Oh -- Tebow has that look in his eyes and is getting the crowd fired up.

10:26 p.m. ET (11:08 left in the third):

Great sequence -- Oklahoma calls timeout on a punt attempt, comes out and has a false start. Then Florida calls timeout and then roughs the kicker. What a disaster.

USC, Utah and Texas -- are you watching this?

And these are supposed to be the two best teams in the nation

10:21 p.m. ET (11:28 left in the third):

Another punt. Are we in the field position game already? And Stoops calls his second timeout when you are ready to punt the ball?

What is this Ravens vs. Steelers with Mike Martz calling the offense?

10:17 p.m. ET (13:20 left in the third):

Very impressed with the Sooners defense tonight. They've really limited the Gators offense. Florida's had a couple of long plays, but the Sooners have not allowed the Gators to march into Sooners territory.

10:10 p.m. ET (Ready to start third quarter):

Some quick notes.

First, Adrian Peterson sighting...in the press box in full Oklahoma gear.

Tim Tebow has thrown two interceptions in tonight's game, marking the first time in his career he has thrown more than one in a single game.

This is the second-lowest scoring BCS Championship behind a 6-0 game in 2001, which Oklahoma led against Florida State. The Sooners went on to win that game 13-2.

9:48 p.m. ET (0:03 left in the 2nd):

The only thing you can't do with 10 second left and zero timeouts is throw an interception -- and that's just what Bradford did. Not only that. With zero timeouts, I'm not so sure he would have made it in. The pass was thrown at the 1-yard line and they might not have had time to get up and snap the ball.

Worst-case scenario -- two field goals -- one here and one before on the 4th and goal and the Sooners should be up 13-7 right now. Instead its tied at halftime 7-7.

9:44 p.m. ET (0:44 left in the 2nd):

As Oklahoma's no huddle moves down the field, Florida's Chris Rainey heads to the locker room on the golf cart.

9:37 p.m. ET (3:31 left in the 2nd):

Chris Rainey one word -- OUCH! -- You tore/sprained something there. If he's back in the rest of the game I'll be shocked. The term when somebody makes a move is "You broke his ankles" -- I think you sprained your knee on that one.

9:27 p.m. (5:20 left in the 2nd):

Oh Bob Stoops, the media will be asking you about that play-calling there. You run it up the middle on third down and then on 4th-and-goal from the 1 you decide to go for the touchdown instead of taking the 3 points and a 10-7 lead. So what do you call? Not play action or spread the field. You run it off tackle and the Gators defense stuffs it.

Very questionable Mr. Stoops.

9:24 p.m. (7:29 left in the 2nd):

WOW! Another interception by Tebow. He didn't even see Gerald McCoy there. Turnovers are such a huge part of the game and Tebow just gift-wrapped great field position for the Sooners.

9:20 p.m. (11:00 left in the 2nd):

Tebow just zipped a past between two Oklahoma players and picked up a huge gain. One problem -- Louis Murphy celebrated and was called for a 15-yard penalty. This game is being called tight. No celebration, no funny business. Refs are taking all the fun out of the game.

9:14 p.m. (11:49 left in the 2nd):

Well that didn't take long. Oklahoma's no-huddle offense just marched down the field in a hurry, mostly behind the running of Chris Brown. It's like the Gators had the second-team defense out there, because Oklahoma couldn't do that in the first quarter. Jermaine Greshman with the touchdown and now this game is getting moving. I expect to see a few more points scored before halftime.

9:07 p.m. (14:02 left in the 2nd):

Finally our first points of the game! Tebow did the smart thing, I'm not sure he could have run it in from that far out. From first reaction, it looked like Louis Murphy might have fumbled it, but replays show he was in. Still -- no replay? I thought the refs should have at least reviewed it.

Surprising stat from the first quarter -- Both teams combined for only 16 yards rushing, with Oklahoma having -1.

9:02 p.m. (End of first quarter):

These officials are horrendous. They don't know what is going on. Flags thrown, no flags thrown, One official just asked the other after a delay of game "Is that a deadball? Do we need to move it back?"

This is the officiating crew they get for the most important game of the season?

8:55 p.m. ET (3:18 to go in the first):

Three minutes to go and the score is 0-0. Who had 0 total points in your pool? You are close to winning. Never in a million years though this game would be scoreless at this point.

8:47 p.m. ET (6:20 to go in the first):

Offensive lineman Duke Robinson, you are on early goat watch. Personal foul penalty and now a holding call brought back a big play. Sooners should be inside the 10 by now, instead they are still at midfield.

8:39 p.m. ET (9:20 to go in the first):

Nic Harris comes up with the first MAJOR play of the night. Tebow was eyeing the receiver the entire time and Harris stepped right in front. One guy to beat to or he was gone. For a guy that has thrown only two interceptions all year, that one was pretty bad. Looked the receivers way the entire time.

Now the Gators defense is going to have to come up with a strong defensive series because Oklahoma basically has the ball at midfield.

8:32 p.m. ET (10:49 to go in the first):

Harvin looked pretty healthy to me on that crossing route. If the field was a little wider, he was gone. He just didn't have enough room to turn the corner.

8:25 p.m. ET:

Early observations .. Iglesias is getting open. It's just a matter of question if the offensive line can protect Bradford long enough to get him the ball.

8:20 p.m. ET:

Damn, the Florida crowd is so loud, we can't here the annoucer in the press box, calling play-by-play. The crowd is easily 75 percent Gators. Oklahoma fans in the lower bowl have 1/2 of the end zone and corner and that's it. Just wait until Oklahoma has to drive down to this Florida band part of the end zone.

8:15 p.m. ET:

Oklahoma wins the toss and will receive. Let's see what Bradford and the offense do with the ball first.


8:10 p.m. ET:

First internet issue of the night. We had this issue with the Orange Bowl, please don't let it happen again. Yolanda Adams performed the national anthem, but the F-16s or F-22s or whatever were WAAAAY early and cut in right in the middle of her performance.

We are moments away from kickoff...

7:58 p.m. ET:

All the past Heisman winners are being honored. No surprise Danny Wuerfel got the loudest cheers.

7:45 p.m. ET:

Both bands take the field. Larger cheers for the Gators band, proving there are definitely more Florida fans here than Oklahoma fans. Either that or everybody likes Florida's better better.

Still alot of people outside the stadium looking for tickets. Heard some selling for $500 a ticket. Two Oklahoma fans I ran into are still hoping to get into the game, but said they won't spend more than $350 a ticket. There are alot more people wanted tickets than there are people selling them.

7:10 p.m. ET:

All the Florida receivers are running routes with Tim Tebow and backup John Brantley throwing them passes -- including Percy Harvin. It's hard to tell how healthy he is from the press box, but he isn't running fly patters with the rest of the team. He's on the sideline stretching and trying to warm up. Tebow looks on target as usual.

7:04 p.m. ET:

Oklahoma's Jimmy Stevens is out practicing field goals....he's making all the short ones, but just missed wide right on a 49-yarder and was short on a 52-yarder. He has only eight field goals this season with a long of 42.

6:49 p.m. ET:

Past Heisman winners have been sighted .. Marcus Allen and Desmond Howard.

Doug Flutie, Andre Ware, Tony Dorsett and Ty Detmer are also around, but I haven't seen them.

6:40 p.m. ET:

Most of the early crowd is Gators' fans. Outside there is a line of at least 500 people waiting to get their tickets at the Will Call window. And at least 75 percent of them were wearing Oklahoma shirts and jerseys.

Florida players take the field first to start warming up. None of the players are wearing their jerseys, just white t-shirts with no helmets.

Some of the Oklahoma special teams players are on the field. Juaquin Iglesias and Manuel Johnson are fielding punts and here comes the rest of the Sooners. There are in complete uniform, jerseys and helmets.

The Kickers have no excuses tonight. There is ZERO wind. The flags on the goal post aren't moving an inch.


As we get ready to kick off in about two hours, some sights and notes from Dolphin Stadium...

... The parking lot is a mad house, tons of Gators and Sooners fans have been tailgating for hours. It's hard to tell if there are more Gators or Sooners here yet, but after a quick check at a few souvenir stands, the sales are about 50/50. They are even starting to get very low on some items, especially hats.

... Lots and lots of Tim Tebow jerseys being worn. His No. 15 is easily the most popular jersey in the stadium.

... According to F-16.net (who knew there was a site devoted to F-16s) there will be two F-22s flying over the stadium during the National Anthem. It must be a big secret, because nobody here will confirm of deny it that's true or not.

... Beautiful night in Miami, couldn't ask for better weather for the game. It's currently 71 degrees with no rain in sight. It's supposed to get down to the mid 50s tonight.

... I swore I saw former Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth walking in the tunnel, heading to the field. But its been a long time since I've seen him and he probably looks a lot different from the Seahawks, "Stone Cold" movie days.


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 5, 2009 6:03 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2009 9:15 pm

BCS Championship Notebook: OU's Lewis impresses

Freshman linebacker Travis Lewis is in good company.

At least in the eyes of Brent Venables.

Travis Lewis leads the team with 135 tacklesVenables, who is in his 10th season at Oklahoma as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach called Lewis "the best freshman that we've had here in our system at linebacker."

Considering Venables has coached former All-Americans Curtis Lofton, Rufus Alexander, Lance Mitchell, Teddy Lehmam, Rocky Calmus and Torrence Marshall, that's one hell of a compliment.

"You look at the linebackers that came through here, you can go down the list," said Lewis. "I'd like to think that when it's all said and done I could be one of the best."

Lewis, who was named Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year with a team-leading 135 tackles, was one of the top linebackers coming out of high school in Texas, but redshirted last season.

"I'm lucky that I had a year to sit out," said Lewis. "That year I sat back and learned from players like Curtis Lofton and Lewis Baker, the guys that were in front of me, it taught me how to learn the game, study and watch film. That makes me that much of a better player this season because I know how to do the little things and to come on game day and do the big things right."

MVP Punter?
The past few weeks have been very good for punters.

In the Champs Sports Bowl, Florida State's Graham Gano was named the MVP and this past weekend in the Colts/Chargers playoff game, the Chargers' punter Mike Scifres was named co-player of the game after knocking down six punts inside the 20.

Oklahoma's Mike Knall took notice.

"I was watching the Florida State game with a girlfriend and I said, '"This guy is really good at pinning the ball deep, and he hit it on the 1. And watch again and he hit on the 3!' I didn't know he got the MVP until after, but if I could do that against Florida, it would be amazing," said Knall.

The junior is averaging 36.4 yards per punt, including 16 out of 51 inside the 20.

"People are starting to realize how big field position is and it can win or lose games," added Knall. "That's my mindset to help our defense out and pin them deep and come up big with a coffin-corner kick."

Special group

Speaking of special teams, Florida has quite a trio.

Florida's special team trio -- James Smith, Jonathan Phillips and Butch Rowley (Photo by J. Darin Darst)The three might be forced to be together on the field, but even at Media Day the three were inseparable.

Kicker Jonathan Phillips, long snapper James Smith and holder Butch Rowley were seen everywhere together, laughing and having a great time in the South Florida sun.

"Special teams are only important when you need it, about 20 plays a game ... " said Phillips.

"... so what he's saying is, it's very important," laughed Rowley.

Rowley, who also plays on kick and punt coverage, has been with the Gators since 2006.

"At first, I said I just wanted to be the holder to add 10 more plays to my resume," said Rowley. "I like pressure, its fun for me to sit and look around. We laugh before we kick the ball and have fun out there."

Their laid-back attitude must be working because Phillips is 11-for-12 on field goals this season, including 9-for-9 form 20-39 yards.

"It helps me out because I get real focused -- or as they might call it ... uptight," laughed Smith. "They keep it light-hearted and it definitely helps."

Working overtime

The field at Dolphin Stadium has gotten a workout the past seven days.

After the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, the field crew tore up the end zones and midfield logo to prepare for the Dolphins-Ravens game on Jan. 4. During Monday's Media Day, they were preparing for the third game in seven days, painting the logos and end zones.

If it rains, the field could become troublesome, especially for kick and punt returns.

"I feel like it's the championship, the last game, so they should take very good care of it," said Florida's Brandon James. "They don't have anything else to do but take care of the field and get it ready for us on Thursday."


Oklahoma is the designated home team and will wear its crimson jerseys, while Florida will wear white.

Two-Way Players

Don't be confused by some of the Oklahoma and Florida players wearing the same numbers. As long as the players are not on the field at the same time, it's fine.

Oklahoma has three numbers that will see plenty of time on the field -- No. 15 is worn by starting cornerback Dominique Franks and backup quarterback Joey Halzle; No. 17 is worn by kicker Jimmy Stevens and running back Mossis Madu and No. 84 is worn by starting receiver Quentin Chaney and starting defensive end Frank Alexander.

Meanwhile, Florida has No. 16, which is worn by linebacker A.J. Jones and wide receiver Carl Moore and No. 21 is worn by safety Major Wright and running back Emmanuel Moody.


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 4, 2009 1:41 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2009 10:24 pm

BCS Championship Notebook: UF's Double Trouble

When the Sooners line up on defense for the BCS Championship on Jan. 8, they are going to see double on the Florida offensive line.

But nothing's wrong with their eyes, it's just the Pouncey twins Mike and Maurkice.

Mike is the second-team All-SEC right guard, while brother Maurkice, the honorable mention All-SEC, lines up right next to him at center.

Like any twins, the two remember the days of their mom dressing them alike when they were kids and playing tricks on friends. But it was hard for them to pull the classic twin move and switch classes to fool their teachers because the two were always in the same class. Even now the two are in the same classes together at UF.

One way they could fool their teammates and coaches as adults would be to switch jerseys.

"We haven't done that because we play difference positions and we'd have to learn that overnight," joked Mike. "We'll probably do it one time, but this is too big of a game."

Even with their jerseys on -- Mike is No. 55, Maurkice is No. 56 -- not everybody can tell who is who.

"They do everything the same," said safety Major Wright. "I know it's Mike and Maurkice, but I can't tell them apart. I just say 'Hey Pounce' or when they are together 'Hey twins.'

"Ahmad Black knows them apart, so whenever I need to ask one of them a question, he helps me out. I know the numbers, 55 and 56, but I can't place which face with which number," laughed Wright.

Along with tackles Phil Trautwein, Jason Watkins and guard Jim Tartt, the Gators have allowed only 16 sacks, including just two in the past three games.


Oklahoma safety Nic Harris was the king of the cliches and one-liners during Sunday's player press conferences. A quick look at some of his better moments:

On the Big 12 defenses: "If you are going to do something good, you're going to do something bad. At the end of the day, we just got to make sure we come out with a win on the 8th."

Threat of Florida's option: "At the end of the day, football is football. It doesn't change the game."

On Oklahoma's last time in the Miami, losing to USC (2004): "Different team, different year, different outcome."

On whether two Heisman candidates facing off for the second time in history is cool: "Cool for who? Cool for the fans? Cool for the critics? At the end of the day, it's not cool for us. I could care less who won the Heisman, doesn't matter to me."

On Oklahoma being ranked 99th in pass defense: "Numbers are for you guys. When we come out and score more points than Florida on the 8th, you won't worry about those numbers anymore."

On making a big hit early to send a message to Florida's offense: "We want to get a hit on them early, hit on them at the end, hit on them at halftime, gonna get a hit in the second quarter, gonna get a hit in the third quarter, we plan to hit on all cylinders."

And this exchange...

Reporter: "With your offense so explosive, they get all the stories written about them, you don't hear alot about your defense nationally, do you guys get overshadowed a bit?"

Harris: "How often do you hear about offensive lineman?

Reporter: "Not too often."

Harris: "Not much, but you need them, right? At the end of the day as long as we are winning we are fine."

Calling the Plays

Despite offensive coordinator Dan Mullen coaching in his last game before leaving to take the head job at Mississppi State, there is no question on who will call the plays.

"Nothing has changed. I'm not calling the plays for this game. We're business as usual right now," said assistant Steve Addazio, who will be promoted to offensive coordinator next season. "We have our staff that works together, always has and will work together. That's just the way we do our business. We have some great football coaches and they're all assigned areas of specialty, and we just kind of work together towards that game plan situation and calls during the course of the game."

Addazio has been with Florida since 2004, serving as a tight ends coach, offensive line and offensive assistant.

Ravens Connection

The Baltimore Ravens, who are in town to play the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the AFC Playoffs, were staying at the same hotel as the BCS media and press conferences.

As Tim Tebow was leaving, he ran into former Gators' co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison from 2005-07, who is currently the Ravens' linebackers coach. The two shared a hug and a laugh amid heavy security.

The Ravens don't have any former Florida Gators players, but do have three former Sooners, including Mark Clayton, who is the school's all-time leader in receptions (221), receiving yards (3,241) and touchdown catches (31).

BCS and the Past

Miami Herald writer Jeff Shain looks back at the past to see what would have changed if the current BCS system had been in place. Some great stuff, including some of the best games in history that never would have happened.

Richard Billingsley and Wes Colley supplied historical rankings for all years in the survey and Shain used AP's rankings because the Harris rankings weren't around until 2004.

My favorite was 1983, where Miami beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl 31-30 to win its first national title. If the BCS were in place, the national title game would have been Nebraska vs. Texas, because Texas was No. 2 and undefeated at the time. Remember, the Hurricanes were ranked No. 4 in the AP and would have been No. 5 in the computer rankings.

No Show

Freshman Travis Lewis was supposed to be available for interviews, but wasn't there. An assistant team media relations director said Lewis had to take care of a non-team related issue and will be available for Monday's Media Day.

Lewis has been one of the top freshman linebackers in the nation, leading the team in tackles with 137, while recording 11.5 for a loss and grabbing four interceptions. He was named Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year and was the defensive freshman of the year in the conference.


Category: NCAAF
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