Friday January 9, 2009Florida Tops Oklahoma, 24-14, to Capture 2008 BCS National Championship
Winning their second national championship in three years, the No. 2 Gators defeated the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners, 24-14, in front of a record football crowd of 78,468 at the FedEx BCS National Championship Thursday at Dolphin Stadium. Florida completes its national championship run with a 13-1 record on the season, tying a school record for wins (13), last achieved during UF’s 2006 national championship run when it finished 13-1 as well. Oklahoma finishes its season 12-2 overall.
The 2009 FedEx BCS National Championship win marks Florida’s fourth BCS bowl win all-time, as the Gators improved their bowl record to 3-1 under head coach Urban Meyer.
Gator senior wide receiver Louis Murphy (St. Petersburg, Fla.), junior wide receiver/running back Percy Harvin (Virginia Beach, Va.) and redshirt junior wide receiver David Nelson (Wichita Falls, Texas) were touchdown targets of junior quarterback Tim Tebow (Jacksonville, Fla.), who threw for 231 yards (18-of-30) and racked up 109 yards on the ground on 22 carries in the win over Oklahoma.
Senior kicker Jonathan Phillips (Wellington, Fla.) tacked on three more points, connecting on a fourth quarter field goal to help lead the Gators over the Sooners.
After recording the first scoreless first quarter since the 1999 BCS National Championship (Florida State vs. Tennessee) and holding OU to their first scoreless first quarter all season, the Gators opened up the national championship game, finding the end zone first on a 20-yard pass from Tebow to Murphy, marking Murphy’s 27th straight game with a catch. Tebow’s connection with Murphy marked the first time the Sooners have allowed their opponent to score first this season, while Phillips’ extra point brought the Gators ahead 7-0.
It took a 2:13 drive for the Sooners to answer two and a half minutes later when quarterback Sam Bradford hit Oklahoma wide receiver Jermaine Gresham with a six-yard touchdown reception. OU drove 65 yards for the score to bring the margin 7-7 all.
Sophomore Torrey Davis (Seffner, Fla.) led the Gator defense on OU’s next possession, rallying for a key fourth-and-one stop that prevented the Sooners from jumping ahead after a Tebow interception. Harvin capitalized on the momentum with a 46-yard run that brought the Gators to midfield.
While UF punted on the possession, the Gator defense sustained on the Sooners’ ensuing drive, ending an OU drive on Florida’s three-yard line when junior Major Wright (Miramar, Fla.) intercepted a Bradford pass. Wright’s pick was UF’s 25th of the season, a single season school record for team interceptions, and took both teams to the locker room tied, 7-7, at the half.
After the Gators and Sooners swapped possessions to open the second half of the game, the Gators jumped out of the gates, stringing together a 75-yard scoring drive when Harvin found the end zone on a two-yard score with 5:22 to go in the third quarter. Harvin has now scored a touchdown in the last 15 games he has played in, a nation-leading streak. Tebow rushed for 49 yards on the drive and Phillips found the uprights to bring Florida ahead 14-7.
On OU’s next drive, sophomore defensive end Carlos Dunlap (North Charleston, S.C.) jumped on an Oklahoma punt to record Florida’s ninth blocked kick of the season, tying a school record (1995), and marking the third for Dunlap this season.
Following a Gator punt, the Sooners closed the score gap when Bradford connected with Gresham for his second touchdown of the night, an 11-yard pass to cap off a 77-yard drive and tie the score, 14-14, for the second time in the national championship showdown.
After a 27-yard Phillips field goal that brought the Orange and Blue ahead 17-14, sophomore safety Ahmad Black (Lakeland, Fla.) kept the momentum in favor of the Gators, intercepting a Bradford pass to give the Gators possession on their own 24 yard-line. The interception marked his seventh of the season for Black and moved him to a third-place tie in the all-time Gator record books.
Passes from Tebow to sophomore tight end Aaron Hernandez (Bristol, Conn.), redshirt junior David Nelson (Wichita Falls, Texas) and Harvin composed a 76-yard game-winning scoring drive by the Gators when Tebow found Nelson for the second time on the drive for a four-yard touchdown, giving Florida a 24-13 lead, the final margin.
Bradford finished the night 26-of-42, throwing for 256 yards, while Gresham led the Sooners in receiving with eight catches for 62 yards and two touchdowns. Oklahoma running back Chris Brown led OU on the ground with 110 yards on 22 carries.