It was the defense, not Tim Tebow, that won the Florida Gators a national championship: Big play after big play defined this defense, and that swagger saved the Gators' season when the offense struggled to find a first-half rhythm. It wasn't just the Ahmad Black and Major Wright interceptions. The tone-setter was unlikely hero Torrey Davis, a backup defensive tackle who stopped Oklahoma running back Chris Brown at the goal line on 4th-and-1 to prevent a first-half touchdown. Brandon Spikes didn't need to be the hero for the Gators defense to hold the game together, even if Sam Bradford and Co. had no problem cruising downfield at times.
Percy Harvin was unbelievable: Cue the Willis Reed highlights. Just before the game, nobody knew whether Harvin was healthy enough on that bum right ankle to finish the game. Instead he finished Oklahoma with 171 total offensive yards, including a 52-yard burst early in the fourth quarter to spark a sagging Florida offense. He looked fresh, he looked explosive, and he scored a touchdown in his 15th straight game, a national record.
Oklahoma's defense was better than expected, but they didn't back up the talk: The defense went offensive to the media all week about their weak reputation, claiming Tebow would be the fourth-best quarterback in the Big 12. Despite glimpses of brilliance, the OU defense didn't follow through on the promise of improvement against a Southeastern Conference foe. Florida finished with 480 total offensive yards, including 100-yard rushing days from Tebow and Harvin. Florida exploded in the fourth quarter with a 76-yard drive. When asked whether he thought Florida would have won when giving up just 14 Florida points through three quarters, OU safety Nic Harris said a definitive "yes."
The Gators offense finally got it together when Tim Tebow decided to start running the ball at every chance: Tebow's stats weren't underwhelming, but his first-half performance was one of his worst of the season. Two interceptions in the first are inexcusable for a Heisman Trophy winner. But when he started running aggressively, especially in the third quarter, is when the momentum shifted. A third-quarter scoring drive ended with a Harvin touchdown run, but Tebow sparked it with runs of 12 and 15 yards.
Texas has no claim to share the national title: The Longhorns could barely beat a Big Ten team, Ohio State, that has struggled in their last three bowl games. These teams were heavyweights that slugged it out.
Watch it again: The Gators' BCS victory will be replayed today at 7 p.m. on Sun Sports as well as Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 8:30 a.m.
Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times