BELIEVE IT!


Published: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — History wears orange and blue today.

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Chris Leak with the national championship trophy after the Gators beat Ohio State 41-14 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.

Florida's football team made it twice as nice to be a Florida Gator on Monday night, thrashing No. 1 Ohio State 41-14. For the first time in the history of college sports, the college basketball and football titles both belong to one school.

Florida played a dominant defensive game and a ball-controlled offensive game to win the second national football championship in school history and second in 10 years.

The Gators celebrated amid a rain of confetti, some players gathering up handfuls of paper on the turf and tossing it airborne again.

Florida's defense limited Ohio State to 82 total yards of offense and became only the second team to score more than 17 points against the Buckeyes this season.

The Gators came into the game as seven-point underdogs, but played up that role all week.

"Coach (Urban) Meyer put that under our skin," said safety Reggie Nelson. "We got tired of hearing about it."

The game couldn't have started much worse for the Gators. Ted Ginn Jr. took the opening kickoff, raced up the middle and cut to his right, racing 93 yards for a score as the predominantly Buckeye crowd went wild.

The rest of the half was almost all Florida. The Gators came at the Buckeye defense from all directions, getting a Chris Leak pass to Dallas Baker from 14 yards out for the first score and runs by Percy Harvin and Deshawn Wynn for the next two.

After Ohio State cut it to 21-14, Florida again drove into Ohio State territory, this time settling for a Chris Hetland field goal. Another Hetland field goal followed a decision by Ohio State coach Jim Tressel to go for a fourth-and-1 at the Buckeye 29. Chris Wells was stuffed, Florida took over and turned it into three points.

The Gators then forced a turnover and scored from a yard out on a Tim Tebow pass to Andre Caldwell for a 34-14 halftime lead.

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