PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Which team is going to win the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game? Ivan Maisel offers 20 reasons Florida will chomp its way to the Gators' first national championship since 1996.
20. The power of the underdog lies with Florida. In three of the last four years, No. 2 has upset No. 1 in the BCS Championship Game, as all Buckeyes fans know. Ohio State started it here in the Valley of the Sun four years ago by beating Miami. In a recent poll of 50 writers across the country by the Mobile Register, 41 picked the Buckeyes to win by an average of 10 points, just as an overwhelming majority picked USC last year to beat Texas. And we all remember how that one turned out.
19. You have to be healthy to be good, and the Gators have stayed out of the training room this season. The five offensive line starters missed a combined total of one start. That's one more than the secondary missed. Linebackers Earl Everett and Brandon Siler, Florida's leading tacklers, and defensive end Jarvis Moss missed only the game against I-AA Western Carolina. QB Chris Leak started every game.
18. Ahem, Troy Smith: The Florida defense has come up big against the best offensive players the Gators have played. Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden rushed for only 73 yards on 21 carries. The Gators limited LSU's JaMarcus Russell to a quarterback rating of 98.66 (24-41-3, 228 yards, one touchdown), the lowest mark in his otherwise stellar season. And they stuffed Tennessee for minus-11 rushing yards, the worst total of Phillip Fulmer's 177 games as the Vols' head coach.
17. The Florida playbook is a thick, mysterious volume, filled with so many plays that Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Heacock said it's like preparing for every offense the Buckeyes have seen this year. Under Urban Meyer, the Gators have become masters of offensive timing, springing end runs, quarterbacks draws, direct snaps and all manner of misdirection at defenses. The effect is clear -- once fooled, twice shy. Leak has thrown 22 touchdowns, Tim Tebow has thrown four and WR Andre Caldwell has thrown one.
16. Ohio State has scored touchdowns on 77 percent of its visits to the red zone. That's very good. But look closer. Florida has scored touchdowns on 88 percent of its visits to the red zone.
15. Ohio State has mowed down 12 opponents, with only two of them coming within seven points. The Buckeyes have beaten two No. 2 teams and could be the first No. 1 to beat three No. 2s. But take a closer look. Florida has been tested more. The record of Buckeyes opponents against other teams is 76-63 (.547). The record of the Gators' 12 I-A opponents against other teams is 94-50 (.660). The Gators know how to win close games.
14. That's the number of combined interceptions made by safety Reggie Nelson and corner Ryan Smith, who transferred from Utah, where he had played for Meyer, after he graduated in order to play for Meyer again. Nelson is a superior athlete who roams the secondary. Smith is a technically proficient corner who's always where he is supposed to be.