IM chat debate - Gators vs. Buckeyes


Published: Wednesday, January 3, 2007 at 7:51 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 3, 2007 at 7:51 a.m.
This is a transcript of an instant message chat put together by Gatorsports.com involving two superfans. First up is Syn a frequent poster on the Gatorsports.com message boards. Representing the Ohio State side is Mike, a Buckeye since birth.

SYN- Hey, I'm Chris, although most of you know me as Syn. I'm a 19 year-old student at the University of Florida, majoring in political science. I look to go into lobbying and politics.

MIKE- I'm Mike, a 42 year-old father of three. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. I'm a technology magazine editor by day and freelance as editor of a Cleveland Browns magazine. I've followed the Buckeyes since birth and am really, really enjoying the renewed “Golden Age” of Buckeye football.

TIM DAVIS- Alright, so to get started I sense, in general, a lack of respect for the Gators as an opponent. Would each of you care to comment?

MIKE- Well, I disagree. I followed the '02 Bucks, and I know a heckuva lot better than to disrespect an opponent with a capable defense. That's nuts.

SYN- Well a big reason is the "ESPN Hype Machine" that so many (particularly Gator fans) people seem to hate.

OSU is the No. 1 team in the country and they've BEEN ranked No. 1.

MIKE- I'm not saying this Gator team is the '02 Buckeyes, but as Chris points out, ESPN will not slobber on you if you are defensive oriented

SYN- Right. Every year the No. 1 team is hyped.

MIKE- Think USC versus Texas.

SYN- ‘05 USC, ‘03 OU, ‘02 Miami.

MIKE- I will say, I think the Buckeye community has been very confident going in. But you're seeing now a closer introspection as gameday approaches

SYN- The story was "Can Texas stop USC?" when the story SHOULD have been "Can USC stop Vince Young?"

MIKE- God, I loved that game...

TIM DAVIS- Mike, what is your impression of Florida football and the Southeastern Conference from your Big 10 perspective?

MIKE- Limited, to be honest. There's frustration with the whole "Florida speed" and "SEC speed" meme. But I do recognize the SEC to be the toughest conference top to bottom in the nation. Florida ran a real gauntlet. But I also think there are a lot of flawed teams down there. One-dimensional teams, like Georgia

But 12-1 for anyone out of the SEC is a great year, and FLA is a legit No. 2 after the University of Mulligan (Michigan) lost its chance.

TIM DAVIS- Syn, lets turn it around, what about the Big 10?

SYN- Well the Big 10, in my opinion, is a league of very mediocre teams, Michigan and OSU.

The average teams beat each other up.

MIKE- *cough* Wisconsin *cough*

SYN- (also, below-average) I'm getting to them. So you're stuck with a bunch of 6-6, 5-7 teams.

MIKE- Heh heh. I'll shut up now

SYN- Then you have Wisconsin, who is an above-average but probably not GREAT team. Relatively easy schedule (didn't have to play OSU) and they go 11-1.

TIM DAVIS- So how does the strength of schedule affect each teams rankings, is it over-played in the SEC?

SYN- I think Wisconsin is probably on par with someone like Tennessee, which went 9-3 in the SEC. Wisconsin is a very similar team to Arkansas as well, which went 10-3.

TIM DAVIS- So you are saying that Wisconsin and Arkansas are about the same?

MIKE- I think SOS is huge, especially if you start losing a game or two. And that killed Wisky's chances this year. They had some real I-AA type stinkers scheduled this year, and it cost 'em. Interesting, I'd say that might be the case. Aren't both very run oriented, physical offensive teams?

SYN- In the style of team they have (defensive minded, running teams), yes. Very physical.

TIM DAVIS- Overall talent? Same for both??

MIKE- Re: SOS--that's why Ohio State is so smart to schedule those big (out-of-conference) games. The Texas home-and-home has done more for OSU football than anything this side of the Michigan matchups

Overall talent for OSU and FLA?

TIM DAVIS- Yes. I want to go deeper into our matchup

MIKE- Ah, I'd be hard pressed to say there's a team out there with talent to match Ohio State. Once the defense proved it came to play this season, you have to say they are loaded on both sides of the ball.

It's rare to find a team with that kind of balance, though the defense is young and isn't as sure tackling as the '05 and '02 squads were

SYN- Oh, a short re: SOS - Florida's SOS was tough enough without a strong OOC schedule (even though Southern Miss is decent), so I don't think we needed a push at the end.

MIKE- If Florida is going to make hay, it's by getting outside, running bubble screens and misdirection, and hoping guys take a bad angle or (linebackers) commit to the wrong hole.

SYN- I think talent-wise, we match up pretty evenly by position.

If you look at WRs, QBs, etc. we both have playmakers on each side of the ball.

MIKE- Florida definitely needed a push at the end, despite the SOS. Voters basically told Michigan to pound salt on their rematch

SYN- Agreed.

MIKE- I approved of that, of course, but the fact is, the system left Florida hanging in a pretty big way toward the end.

Back to talent.

SYN- Yeah. I'm saying I think the SOS should have spoken for itself.

TIM DAVIS- Can UF move the ball on OSU? Open question to you both.

SYN- But yeah, I think OSU has the advantage in (the) running game because they have two consistent RBs, but overall we have an advantage on defense.

MIKE- Absolutely. OSU gives up yards, but gets turnovers. It's the antithesis of the A.J. Hawk led D, which gave up no yards and got very few turnovers

SYN- Yes, OSU has given up yards to every major opponent they've played. Michigan got 400 yards. Texas got 350-ish.

MIKE- Florida must manage the pocket however. (Defensive tackles) Quinn Pitcock and (David) Patterson can get pressure with just four, which is what has produced the INT’s.

SYN- The thing is, OSU has prevented scoring, like Mike said.

TIM DAVIS- So lets throw some numbers out there... UF could/should get how many yards in the air and ground?

MIKE- The thing is, the defense by design is bend and don't break. There is very, very little blitzing

TIM DAVIS- Predictions?

SYN- Depsite giving up 170 on the ground to Texas they only gave up seven points.

MIKE- Right. Predictions are tough. Here's my take…

SYN- So yes, UF can move the ball, the trick will be scoring in the red zone.

TIM DAVIS- That is why we chose you both...to make the tough call.

MIKE- OSU should win this game. If they play well and don't make mistakes, the balance of the Buckeyes squad and turnovers will win it. But look at OSU's history against Michigan and bowls in the Troy Smith era. OSU will typically turn over the ball at least twice.

SYN- I think Ohio State has an advantage on offense because of their balance.

MIKE- The only reason this year's Michigan game was close is that we gifted the Wolverines with three turnovers, and (Michigan quarterback Chad) Henne protected the ball.

SYN- They aren't like Tennessee or Arkansas who only attacks you from one very strong area.

MIKE- If Florida plays aggressive defense and is on their game, I expect we could see two OSU turnovers that keep this game tight into the fourth quarter.

SYN- Mike: That's the key, in my opinion, turnovers.

MIKE- But...

SYN- Florida turns the ball over a lot, and very untimely situations.

MIKE- If OSU produces turnovers (and they almost certainly will) this thing gets out of hand. Short fields will destroy even the best defense.

SYN- We had a 17-7 lead on Arkansas and threw a pick-six and another pick that was run back to the 20.

MIKE- Ah, the Arkansas game. You musta had a heart attack or three during THAT.

SYN- Yeah. So there are two keys, in my opinion, to beating OSU: Scoring in the redzone and winning the turnover battle.

MIKE- Ultimately, I think the QB play is going to define the game. Leak won't protect the ball getting pressure from four and throwing into 8-man coverages.

SYN- Leak can't throw two INTs and still win.

MIKE- And Smith... well, you know.

SYN- Smith doesn't turn the ball over a lot.

MIKE- You'd be surprised.

SYN- Well.

MIKE- In big games, he sometimes tries to do too much

SYN- Unlike JaMarcus Russell of LSU, I don't think he'll throw three INTs on us.

MIKE- The booted snap over his head should have been secured, but Smith decided to keep moving and lost it.

SYN- And fumbled on the 1.

MIKE- True that. I expect turnover ratio to come out even. Two-to-two.

TIM DAVIS- That leads to a question, How will your team's character come into play? Can your team handle the big stage?

SYN- Troy Smith CAN make mistakes (like Michigan) but we have to capitalize on that.

MIKE- Where on the field those turnovers occur will be important.

SYN- By the way - OSU is 11th in the country with 16 turnovers lost.

MIKE- One issue is that the OL was really banged up at the end of the year. (Offensive tackle Alex) Boone's knee and (center Doug) Datish's hand really led to some of those late struggles.

SYN- Florida's 73rd with 24.

MIKE- Smith also had a banged thumb that really limited him, though the team absolutely refused to acknowledge it.

SYN- Well OSU has been here before.

(re: stage). Tressel's been here before.

MIKE- Well, actually, Arizona is OSU's home away from home

SYN- Yeah, exactly. Four national titles at Youngstown. One with OSU.

MIKE- They've been to three Fiesta bowls and now the (National Championship). That's a major advantage.

SYN- Right.

MIKE- Coaching...

SYN- (Florida coach Urban) Meyer was here in 2004 (with Utah). But he's only been a head coach 6 years.

MIKE- I really respect Urban Meyer. A great coach. Much better than LLLLLoyd Carr or Mack Brown, I'd bet. I read somewhere that his record in bowl games is outlandish. And I believe it. Hey, he's a guy with OSU roots, right? How can you go wrong?

SYN- Haha, riiight. But yeah, he's 6-0 against our rivals.

MIKE- Bingo.

SYN- (Meyer is) 3-0 in bowl games overall. I think JT definitely has the advantage because of experience though. When push comes to shove, neither loses big games.

MIKE- And managing rivalry games and bowl games is hard. That's why guys like John Cooper at Ohio State and now LLLLLoyd Carr in Michigan got/get so much heat

SYN- JT is what, 4-0, 4-1 in bowl games?

MIKE- Oooh, good question. He's 5-1 I think. Lost the very first year, when they were 7-5 and nearly came back from 28-0 down to win their bowl game against South Carolina. Hasn't lost since.

SYN- Right, in the Outback.

MIKE- More important, 5-1 against michigan

SYN- That's what I thought. Yeah. So he gets his teams up.

MIKE- After Coopers 2-10-1 job, that's huge. He gets his teams up, but more important, he keeps them calm.

SYN- JT has a lot more experience than Meyer. This will really be a chess match, because you give either coach a decent amount of time to prepare and they'll find a weakness to exploit.

MIKE- The composure they displayed in the '02 NC against Miami was surreal. So edge in coaching to Tress. Edge in overall D to Florida. Edge in turnover D to OSU. Edge in offense, big to OSU

SYN- A slight edge to OSU because of experience, but yeah an edge to OSU.

TIM DAVIS- Special teams?

MIKE- The key matchup to me will be Florida’s DL versus OSU's OL

SYN- I think we win on special teams.

MIKE- FLORIDA CANNOT KICK

SYN- Yeah. Hahahaha. We can't. But We can punt the hell out of the ball.

Our punt coverage teams are excellent, and our return man is pretty awesome.

MIKE- Right, great coverage. And (wide receiver/return man Ted) Ginn (Jr.) has a tendency to get tight in big games. See the tape on the ‘05 Michigan game.

If he tiptoes and gets tentative trying to find a seam, you can hold him to negative yardage.

SYN- We've also blocked several punts, FGs, and XPs.

MIKE- He's seemed to have fixed that, but the book on him is out there

Tressel calls the punt the most important play in football. He'll have that unit ready.

SYN- Arkansas had some of the best special teams in the country when we played them and we shut them down, so I'm pretty confident in that.

MIKE- I don't think we get big returns.

SYN- OSU isn't going to beat us on a punt return.

MIKE- But again, Florida can't kick figgies. And that's a real problem.

SYN- Yeah.

MIKE- OSU can kick 'em from 50 yards away

SYN- The good news is, Hetland is 4-for-4 from inside 28 I believe.

So if we're gameplanning... We can play for four downs instead of three till we get to the 15. Er, inside the 15.

MIKE- I was just thinking that... It's four down territory from the 35- to the 15

SYN- Exactly.

MIKE- But again, giving up short fields to Ohio State is baaa-aaad

SYN- Yeah.

TIM DAVIS- Alright fellas, lets do the final score predictions. Argh, c'mon, you guys are too nice to each other

SYN- That's tough. It's much easier to say how matchups favor who, lol.

Well I think our defense is comparable to Texas'.

MIKE- If it's even turnover-wise, I say OSU wins: 31-21 (and no, no field goals for UF).

SYN- Strong front seven. They held OSU to 27 rushing yards and 24 points.

MIKE- We scored how many against Michigan?

SYN- Well, 42, but I think we're better than Michigan.

MIKE- 42.... Douglas Adams will tell you, it's a meaningful number

SYN- Haha, agreed! Life, the universe, and everything.

TIM DAVIS- Alright. Numbers, fellas

MIKE- ... and Michigan. 31-21 if turnovers are even

TIM DAVIS- Is that your final answer? Syn?

SYN- I think it's 28-27, maybe 31-27 Florida if we can win the turnover battle, play solid defense and special teams, like we did against Arkansas, LSU, and Tennessee.

MIKE- If UF protects the ball and OSU turns it over two too (like they did versus Michigan), then I'm going with 17-14 OSU. Make that three turnovers, sorry

SYN- I think we put up several touchdowns, both Michigan and Texas were able to move the ball pretty decently and I think we'll have a good gameplan.

TIM DAVIS- So I have 31-27 Gators for Syn and 17-14 OSU for Mike?

MIKE- I just don't think UF can make the mistakes it did against Arkansas and survive Ohio State in the desert. No way.

SYN- I agree, we can't self-destruct in the third quarter.

MIKE- More than any game I can think of, turnovers are the key going in.

TIM DAVIS- So Mike, what is the deal with "THE" Ohio State?

SYN- Because if we spot you guys 14 or 17 points we're through.

MIKE- You know, I'm not the best to ask in this regard, but it's not unusual for schools to have "The" in their name

TIM DAVIS- Yeah, but OSU really plays that up

MIKE- The emphasis that gets placed on it though, clearly that's a school thing. Right. Hey, when you're named after a poisonous nut, you gotta do something to play it up.

SYN- Haha

MIKE- Seems to be working pretty well for us.

TIM DAVIS- I was going to say, a nut for a mascot.

MIKE- Could be the only major D-1 program named after vegetation. Which is pretty damn cool when you think about it. I mean, tigers, lions, gators... how creative is that?

SYN- Well we're the only Gators as far as we know.

MIKE- Now a Buckeye.... oooh. We got 'em right where we want 'em!

SYN- Er, as far as I know. But tigers are stupid.

TIM DAVIS- Which school has the best tradition of football? Last 100 years, last 10 years...

SYN- We have two of them in our conference.

MIKE- I knew you'd say that . LSU and ?

SYN- Auburn.

MIKE- Oh, of course.

SYN- Plus the Kentucky Wildcats.

MIKE- Big 10 is the conference of fierce rodents, though. Golden Gophers, Badgers, Wolverines. Great stuff.

SYN- LoL

TIM DAVIS- Tradition of winning fellas?

SYN- For tradition, you have to give the nod to OSU over the past 100+ years.

MIKE- No doubt. OSU football is ridiculously rich.

TIM DAVIS- Last 15 years?

MIKE- From Chic Harley to Antonio Pittman.

SYN- I mean, you can name coaches for OSU from 20, 30 years ago and you can name what, 2 UF coaches?

MIKE- Make no mistake, the 80s were tough for us.

SYN- Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer. With some other dude in between. Whom we'd rather not discuss.

MIKE- We had a lot of 9-3 under Earl Bruce. Cooper kinda slid along for a spell, then got the program near the top. Zooooooook

SYN- *shivers*

MIKE- That guy is stealing kids for Illinois now, though. A recruiting badass

SYN- Yeah, seriously, stealing our money and now our recruits. (We're still paying him, under contract).

MIKE- But Tressel.... This guy could challenge the legacy of Woody Hayes. And mind you, WH is like the second coming in Ohio football. Ouch

SYN- Yeah, (ESPN college football analyst Lee) Corso said that last night and Kirk (Herbstreit) was like "WTF?" As far as 15 years goes, I think you give the edge to Florida, slightly.

TIM DAVIS- Question: Your favorite football alum who is currently active in the NFL

MIKE- Tressel is from Ohio, coached at Youngstown, played at Baldwin-Wallace College. It was so important to get an Ohio born and bred coach leading the program. He just gets it, in ways Cooper never did.

SYN- Past five years, OSU, but we ruled the 90s. OSU had a great 98 team. A great 2002 team.

MIKE- '98. The team that coulda, shoulda, woulda been... if not for Sparty. Hurts me just to think it.

SYN- Yeah. For me it's a tossup between Rex Grossman and Alex Brown, I think, in the NFL.

MIKE- Rex!

SYN- I love Rex, I think he's the best QB Florida's had.

MIKE- That guy is killing people in Chicago. You just never know what he'll do next.

SYN- Yeah. Alex Brown is always repping the Gators, though.

MIKE- Oh yeah, big time

SYN- He wears UF hats in interviews.

MIKE- Did you follow Andra Davis back in his UF days? He plays for the Browns now. Quality guy.

SYN- I know of him, yeah. Calls us "THE University of Florida" in his pre-game intros.

MIKE- TUF

SYN- Haha. Though, Doug Johnson's making a push with his 2.5% of the country hating him.

TIM DAVIS- OSU guy in the NFL?

MIKE- For me, can I pick Eddie George? I know he's retired now, but man, what a great player, great person, and articulate spokesman for the game and for the school.

TIM DAVIS- That was the next question.

MIKE- Make me proud.

SYN- Being the most annoying player in the country when you're like the third string QB is awesome.

MIKE- Now THAT was an achievement

TIM DAVIS- Yeah, but Emmitt is a better dancer

MIKE- Oh god...

SYN- Hahaha.

MIKE- Our heroes have betrayed us.

SYN- We can pull in the triple-whammy this year. Basketball NC. Football NC. And... Dancing with the Stars. Who else can claim that??

TIM DAVIS- Unprecedented

MIKE- Now how can I possibly compete with that?

SYN- THE University of Florida!

MIKE- TUF!

TIM DAVIS- Alright fellas thanks for playing along.

MIKE- I'm hoping OSU gets another crack at UF in the tourney. Men's BBall, Men's Football, Women's BBall. All ranked near or at the top.

SYN- It'd be a fun game, no doubt. Especially after (Ohio State freshman center Greg) Oden further develops.

MIKE- The more Oden plays the worse it is for everyone else, to be sure. One note. UF and OSU are bumping each other on recruiting

SYN- First big-game jitters for him, no doubt.

TIM DAVIS- I've got your predictions and Mike you should come by the Gatorsports.com forums and say hi to everyone.

SYN- Or check out my blog at HYPERLINK "http://thegatorblog.blogspot.com/"http://thegatorblog.blogspot.com/

MIKE- I'll make a point to do that.

TIM DAVIS- MIke, will you be at the game?

SYN- [promotion].

MIKE- No, no chance of that. I got kids and jobs... I'll have the whole family up watching, to be sure. Might blog it stream of consciousness style. But being from Vermont, Arizona in January doesn't sound so bad. Hey, Chris, what is the prognosis for UF next year? Are they young or are they graduating a lot of kids?

SYN- The offense will be young.

MIKE- OSU loses Smith, Pittman, maybe (wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez) Gonzo, as well as a couple senior OL

SYN- You'll have a sophomore QB, sophomore RB, etc.

MIKE- But there's major talent stepping up, except at QB. Tebow?

SYN- Yeah. The O-Line will be much better, they're really young right now.

MIKE- About time. Two-headed quarterbacks are the worst idea this side of Yard Darts

SYN- Well the funny thing is how well it's worked, at times.

MIKE- We ran that with Stanley Jackson and Joe Germain in the 90s. What a mess...

SYN- Mid-drive it kills Leak's momentum. But when you have him as a third-down fullback basically, it seems to work.

MIKE- Don't people know it's coming? I mean, Tebow throws rarely, so you'd think they'd just scheme run D and stuff it

SYN- Lately they have. FSU shut him down entirely.

TIM DAVIS- You can't stop the mighty jump pass

SYN- Hahaha

MIKE- Urban's a good coach. I expect something different from him. Ah, the jump pass. That was not a proud moment in football, but it worked!

SYN- Thing is, when you line up Tebow in the shotgun, you think he's running.

MIKE- Right

SYN- You all but KNOW it's coming. But he could always pass.

TIM DAVIS- Question: What do you like least about your opponent?

MIKE- Ah, good question.

TIM DAVIS- A little gasoline for the fire

MIKE- For me, easy: Steve Spurrier But he's gone now, isn't he? And you guys did your penance with Zooooooook. My favorite moment of TV sideline action ever.

SYN- I don't like Tressel, to be honest. Not him as a person, but as a coach. I think, with nearly two months off, he has something up his sleeve.

TIM DAVIS- Expand on that

SYN- And he wins big games.

MIKE- Fear the Vest

SYN- He gets his guys up for big games, he's been there, done that.

I have a lot of faith in Meyer, but Tressel also kinda worries me.

TIM DAVIS- What was you favorite sideline moment?

MIKE- My problem really is that I've grown to despise Florida teams. Their dominance in the 90s was really infuriating for a blood-n-guts Big 10 football fan like me. FSU, UF, Miami.... ugh

SYN- Oh I despise FSU and Miami too.

MIKE- All that's changed now, of course. For the better. And I find that I'm able to live with ONE Florida team near the top. I gotta say, the recruiting situation down there has to be a complete circus. One thing Tressel's done is build a fence around Ohio. Michigan isn't plundering top recruits anymore, and it shows on the scoreboard and he's got some pipelines with Coral Gables down in Florida.

SYN- But also because of that, you're getting schools like OSU and Texas (and f'n Illinois) fishing in Florida.

TIM DAVIS- OK, fellas. I need to shut down for a while here. Thanks for the good work.

MIKE- Go Bucks!

SYN- Go Gators and TUF.

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