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SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
1/09/2007 03:43:00 AM

Florida 42, Ohio State 14: Final Thoughts

Oakland Arena
Known as one of the nation's best big-game coaches, Ohio State's Jim Tressel didn't seem to have an answer for Florida.
AP

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Final thoughts and observations following Monday night’s BCS blowout (with help from Luke Winn, who’s sitting right next to me) ...

∙ The way the game transpired was eerily similar to the USC-Oklahoma game two years ago, right down to the fact that the Buckeyes, just like the Sooners, jumped ahead first on Ted Ginn Jr.’s game-opening kick return. Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen said it was huge that Brandon James had a big return of his own on the ensuing kick to give the Gators a starting position of their own 46. After they marched down the field to tie the game, Mullen said he told Chris Leak, “All right, the joke’s over. Let’s start the real game.”

Jim Tressel has won enough big games in his time that one such loss should not override them, but Monday night was not exactly his finest hour. Besides the obvious, bizarre fourth-and-one call, it didn’t seem like the Buckeyes made any significant adjustments during the game to counter Florida’s pass-rush. “I think at times we put Troy [Smith] in a situation that was tough, from a scheme standpoint.”

∙ Florida coach Urban Meyer declined to reveal the identity of the good-luck charm he was seen pulling out of his pocket and later holding on the sideline during the game. “It is personal,” said Meyer. “I have had that for six years and it’s something that helps me make good decisions.” Meyer’s wife, Shelly, standing outside the locker room afterward, was happy to show off a Buckeye given to her by a friend from Salt Lake City.

∙ Troy Smith had been a model of poise all season, and several Florida defenders noted that he kept his cool even while struggling so mightily. It carried over to the post-game presser, too, where a remarkably upbeat Smith handled his press-conference duties the same way he would have after a win. “I’m a realist,” he said. “I have an understanding that not everything in life is going to go the exact way that you want it to.”

∙ None of the Buckeyes explicitly announced their pro futures in the locker room afterward, but we did get a few hints: Running back Antonio Pittman said that he will "make a decision regarding his future" at a Jan. 15 press conference at his old high school, Akron Buchtel. Does anyone schedule a press conference ahead of time if they're coming back to school? Receiver Anthony Gonzalez said he thought it was irresponsible to consider his pro future until after the title game, but said, "I know this -- this is certainly not how I wanted to end my Ohio State football career."

∙ The quarterback most likely to succeed Smith is junior Todd Boeckman, who is Gonzalez's roommate and was slotted as the third-stringer this season. Of Boeckman, sophomore wide receiver Brian Robiskie said, "I'm not going to say he's a 'Troy', but he's got one of the stronger arms on the team. He'll sit back in the pocket and read a defense real smoothly."

∙ At a news conference Monday morning, BCS coordinator Mike Slive discussed the much-talked about plus-one game that most observers expect to be added to the postseason come 2010. Answer me this: If there was a plus-one this season, who the heck would Florida be playing?

∙ Finally, I can’t say I was paying very close attention to the Ohio State band at halftime, but it was pointed out to me by numerous people that one of its selections was the theme song from Titanic. Jeez.
posted by Stewart Mandel | View comments |
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