Senior quarterback Chris Leak (Charlotte,
N.C.) threw for a touchdown and senior
running back DeShawn Wynn (Cincinnati, Ohio) ran for another score to lead the second-ranked
University of Florida
football team to a 41-14 victory over
in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game, earning the Gators their
second-ever national football championship. With the win, Florida
became the first school in NCAA Division I history to win capture national titles in
football and men’s basketball during the same calendar year, having earned its
first title on the hardcourt by defeating UCLA in
Ohio struck first when Ted Ginn, Jr., returned the game’s opening kickoff 93 yards for
a touchdown. The Gators, however, battled back to tie the score at 7-7 when Leak connected with senior wide
receiver Dallas Baker (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.)
for a 14-yard touchdown pass just
later. Leak completed 5-of-5 passes for 35 yards on the seven-play, 49-yard
drive, which was set up by a 33-yard kick return by freshman running back Brandon
James (St. Augustine, Fla.) and a subsequent 15-yard facemask
penalty against the Buckeyes.
Gators took a lead they would not relinquish at the 5:51 mark of the first
quarter when freshman wide receiver Percy Harvin (Virginia Beach, Va.)
took an option pitch from Leak and scampered four yards for his third touchdown
of the season. Senior kicker Chris Hetland (Leesburg, Ga.)
connected on the point-after attempt to give UF a 14-7 advantage.
senior cornerback Reggie Lewis (Jacksonville,
Fla.) intercepted Ohio State
quarterback Troy Smith with 2:49 left to play in the opening quarter, Wynn plowed into the endzone from two
yards to cap a 10-play 71-yard drive that gave Florida a 21-7 lead. The score
was Wynn’s sixth of the season and the 25th of his UF career, moving him into a
tie with Buford Long for sixth on the all-time school list.
18-yard touchdown run by Antonio Pittman cut the Gators’ lead to 21-14 with
just over 13 minutes left to play in the first half, but Hetland connected on a
43-yard field goal – his longest of the season – to push Florida’s advantage to 24-14 with six
minutes remaining in the second period. UF’s place kicker added a 40-yard field
goal with on the
clock in the first half to increase the Gators’ lead to 27-14.
first play of OhioState’s ensuing
possession, junior defensive end Jarvis Moss (Denton, Texas)
sacked Smith, forcing a fumble that sophomore defensive end Derrick Harvey (Greenbelt, Md.)
picked up and returned to the Buckeyes’ five-yard line. On third-and-goal from
the OSU one-yard line, freshman quarterback Tim Tebow (Jacksonville, Fla.)
hit junior wide receiver Andre Caldwell (Tampa, Fla.) for a scoring
strike that gave the Gators a 34-14 lead heading into the locker room.
the Buckeyes in the total yardage department, 220-65, and outpassed
OSU, 151-30, in the first half. Leak finished the opening two quarters 16-of-24
through the air for 150 yards and touchdown, while Tebow led the squad with 23
yards on the ground. The UF defense collected three sacks, a forced fumble and
an interception prior to the break, while holding the Buckeyes to just seven
first downs in the first half.
teams dueled to a scoreless third quarter, Tebow put the Gators ahead, 41-14,
with a one-yard plunge at the
mark of the final period. On the play, Tebow tied Jimmy Fisher’s single-season
school record for touchdown runs by a quarterback, set in 1979, with eight on
the campaign. That touchdown would prove to be the final score of the night,
propelling the Gators to the 41-14 win.
finished the game 25-of-36 for 212 yards and a score, while Wynn paced the team
with 70 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Harvin hauled in a career-high
nine receptions on the night, good for 59 yards, and senior
Jemalle Cornelius (Fort Meade, Fla.)
chipped in with five catches for 49 yards. Senior linebacker Earl Everett (Webster,
Fla.) notched a team-high seven tackles,
and Harvey contributed a career-high three
sacks, resulting in a loss of 31 total yards for OhioState.
victory over the Buckeyes improved their mark to 3-1 all-time in BCS bowl
games, and stood as their first win over a top-ranked team since defeating FloridaState
on Nov. 22, 1997. Florida
head coach Urban Meyer became just
the seventh coach in NCAA history to guide a team to a national championship in
his first or second year at a school, bettering his all-time bowl record to 4-0
as a head coach at the same time.