Former players like Florida's title chances
Published: Tuesday, January 2, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 2, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
Most of the country's college football fans and experts may not give the Florida Gators much of a chance to defeat Ohio State in the BCS title game on Monday in Glendale, Ariz., but don't include numerous former Florida players in that group.
In fact Travis McGriff said something that makes these Gators (12-1) very different than the ones he lettered for from 1995-98 and may be what helps them win the BCS championship.
"This team amazes me because entering the year I had a hard time believing they were as good as they proved to be," McGriff said. "Coming from the time I was fortunate enough to play for the Gators, we did it with style points. We blew teams out. This team has a lot of talent, especially on defense. The special teams also play really hard and make a lot of plays. The offense is adequate. It does enough to win games.
"But that's the thing, no matter how down they may look, they seem to find a way to turn the close games in their favor."
McGriff contends that No. 1 Ohio State (12-0), despite it's prodigious talent, may not be as equipped to handle winning anything but a blowout, evidenced by its 36.3-10.4 average margin of victory.
"They have the Heisman winner (quarterback Troy Smith) and all those big-name guys," McGriff said. "They're favored, we're the underdog. We won games this year against teams I felt had more talent than we did. We won an SEC title, and now there's nothing to lose because who expected this?
"There's no pressure on the players or coaching staff. No pressure.
"Ohio State was wire-to-wire No. 1. If they lose, there may be finger-pointing. There has got to be a lot of looseness in this type of game. I wonder how loose they can be.
"If I was to predict, I'd say Florida by one."
That seems to be a uniting factor among former Gators.
"I think because just about every game Florida has played this year has been close, I don't expect anything different than that," said former UF wide receiver Chris Doering (1993-95). "I think Florida's experience in close games and Ohio State's relative inexperience in close games could be big. I think that will be to Florida's benefit. A lot of people put pressure on Ohio State because of how (easily) they have won games this year.
"Florida has been able to fly a bit under the radar, winning close games, so people aren't expecting as much."
Former Gator defensive end Alex Brown, now with the Chicago Bears, like McGriff and Doering, picks UF. But he said no one should be surprised by a Gator win.
"It will not really be an upset when we beat Ohio State," Brown told The Sporting News. "When we go into a game, we expect to win. It just so happens this game has the national championship riding on it."
That excitement stems in part from his belief that the Buckeyes haven't faced the type of athletes UF has.
"We have speed they have not seen in the Big 10," Brown said.
Contact John Patton at 374-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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