By Aaron Groff
For the second time in three years, the city of Gainesville celebrated as the Florida Gators brought home the crystal trophy signifying their victory at the BCS National Championship Game. The Gators defeated the then numberone team in the country, the Oklahoma Sooners, 24-14, in a game consisting of what few expected, defense.
The 2008 Sooners, led by Heisman Trophywinning quarterback Sam Bradford, are considered by many to be the most prolific offense in NCAA football history. They set numerous records including an unheard- of five straight games with at least sixty points. The Gators featured an offense led by former Heisman winner Tim Tebow, and played just one game in which they did not win by over ten points (a one-point loss to Mississippi).
In the championship, it was the speed of Florida’s defense, not offense, which brought an abrupt stop to the big-play Sooners, proving once more that offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. In what is considered to be two of the game’s biggest plays, he Gators defense twice ended Oklahoma drives while backed up in their own end zone. Those two goal line stands, “really shifted the momentum of the game,” junior Daniel Peterson said.
All eleven defensive starters will return in 2009, and if experience means anything at all, they should only improve off this season’s success.
Also returning is Tebow, who is already being considered one of the best college quarterbacks of all time. As a freshman, Tebow served as the Gators’ energizing catalyst, helping them win the BCS Championship. “He’s a beast,” stated Peterson. “He brings the X-Factor.”
However, last season, Tebow was the centerpiece of a young team still working through its growing pains. Now that their running backs and defense have matured, those pains seemed to have eased up as Tebow carried the team to the National Championship once again.
Of course, all teams’ success starts with the coach. The Gators’ coaching staff, led by Head Coach Urban Meyer, has done a magnificent job recruiting high school alent to play football at Florida.
Watch for the Gators to be a powerhouse once again next year as they hope to cement their dynasty by winning their third title in four years.