2007 BCS Championship Preview

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2007 BCS Championship Preview ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>

Florida Gators (12-1) +7 ½, o/u 46 vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0), 8 p.m. Eastern Monday, Fox
by Ultimatecapper.com Staff

The 2006-07 college football season reaches a climax when the champions of the Southeastern Conference, the Florida Gators, battle the Ohio State Buckeyes, champions of the Big 10, in the first Bowl Championship Series title game Monday night in Glendale, Arizona.

Ohio State began this season ranked in almost every Top Two or Three, then took over as the top-ranked team in the country after beating the defending national champion Texas Longhorns in Austin on the second Saturday of the season. The Buckeyes then rolled through the remainder of their schedule, winning games by an average of 26 points, and beat Michigan 42-39 in a game that wasn’t as close as that score might indicate in what amounted to the Big 10 championship game to finish the regular season a perfect 12-0.

Florida went 7-1 to win the SEC’s Eastern Division, the only loss a 27-17 decision at Auburn, and beat Arkansas 38-28 in the SEC championship game. In their second season under head coach Urban Meyer, the Gators outscored opponents by an average of 15 points per game, won five games by seven points or less, and upped their record to 21-4 under Meyer.

OSU, now 62-13 under head coach Jim Tressel, is looking for its second national championship under the former Youngstown State coach. The Buckeyes beat Miami 31-24 in OT as solid underdogs in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl to capture their first national championship since 1968.

Monday night, however, it’s Ohio State who’s the solid favorite; the Buckeyes are listed as 7 1/2-point chalk over Florida, with a total of 46.

This will be the first-ever meeting between these two long-time college football powers.

The Gators are just 4-8 against the spread, and two of those covers came in non-conference bouts against Southern Mississippi and Central Florida. Florida was favored in every game it played this season. On the other side, the Buckeyes continued their recent winning ways, as far as their financial backers were concerned, by going 9-3 against the spread this season, and 8-2 ATS when favored by a touchdown or more. So over the course of the last three seasons, Ohio State is 25-11 vs. the numbers.

These two teams did not play any common opponents this season. But for what it’s worth, the Big 10 is 2-0 against the SEC in bowl games so far this season. Wisconsin beat Arkansas 17-14 in the Capital One Bowl and Penn State knocked off Tennessee 20-10 in the Outback Bowl. To take a Buckeyes/Gators comparison one step further, OSU beat Penn State 28-6 in Week 4 (in a game that was much closer than that score indicates), and Florida came from behind to beat the Volunteers 21-20 in Knoxville in Week 3.

Gators QB Chris Leak, with 46 career collegiate starts under his belt, completed 63% of his passes this season and racked up a 22/13 TD/INT ratio.

Buckeyes QB Troy Smith, this season’s Heisman Trophy winner who’s started 28 games for OSU, hit on 67% of his throws this season and compiled a gaudy 30/5 TD/INT ratio.

Florida, which did not allow a 100-yard rusher this season, is outgaining opponents on the ground by a 160-75 yards-per-game average.

Ohio State is outgrounding foes by a 180-94 YPG margin this season.

The Gators offense is ranked 19th (out of 119 Division 1 college football teams) by averaging 398 total yards per game, while the Buckeyes defense is ranked 12th in the nation by holding foes to an average of 273 TYPG.

The Ohio State offense is ranked 16th at 410 TYPG, while the Florida defense is ranked 10th by limiting opponents to 269 TYPG.

The Buckeyes rank 8th with their +8 turnover margin this season, while the Gators rank 44th at +3.And Ohio State ranks 16th with an average time-of-possession of 31:46, while Florida ranks 44th at 30:24.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks the Buckeyes #1 with a rating of 98.25, while the Gators come in at #11 at 87.0. Sagarin also ranks the SEC as the second-best conference in the country, just behind the PAC 10, while the Big 10 is rated as the fourth-best league.

The O/U is 4-8 in Florida games this season, which averaged 42 points per, while the totals tallied a 3-9 mark in Ohio State games, which averaged 47 points per. Also, the Gators played five games this season with posted totals of 45 or more; the O/U went 1-4 in those games. And the Buckeyes played eight games this season with totals of 45 or more; the O/U, thanks mainly to the OSU defense, went 0-8 in those games.

The Buckeyes opened up as eight-point chalk for Monday’s game, with a total of as much as 48. The line on OSU has dropped a bit, to seven and 7 ½ at most sportsbooks, and the total has dropped by as much as two points.

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