Three SEC-Big 10 battles all kick off today at 1 p.m.


Ohio State coach Luke Fickell has kept his team focused on today's game with Florida. (The Associated Press)

Published: Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 11:39 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 11:39 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE -- It would seem to be the perfect tripleheader, three games between the SEC and Big 10 spread out over the day today.

Instead, they are all jammed into the same TV window.

Florida vs. Ohio State, South Carolina vs. Nebraska and Georgia vs. Michigan State will require some adept channel changing or more than one TVs for a fan who is into the SEC-Big 10 rivalry. They all begin at 1 p.m. today.

One would think it would be better for fans to stagger the games, but bowl games are about revenue as much as anything and the head of the Gator Bowl said thre three bowls reached an agreement this year to start at the same time.

“There are 15 ratings points out there during ghe time slot which is about 20 million people,” said Rick Catlett. “If one game starts earlier, it tends to keep all the viewers. We want to divide those 15 rating points and give all of our title sponsors exposure. This way all three games will draw numbers.

“It's a revenue bonanza to our advertisers.”

Ohio State coach Luke Fickell said that whenever the games are being played the fans should have a blast.

“I wish we were like every college football fan watching those three games,” he said. “It's one of the best days of the year.”

MISSING BUCKS: Florida has some key injuries heading into the bowl game but Ohio State has problems of its own.

Tight end Jake Stoneburner will be limited after having minor surgery in Columbus.

When asked how much Stoneburner will be able to play, Fickell said, “I'm kind of curious myself.”

And reserve running back Rod Smith didn't accompany the team on its charter flight. He rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries this season.

“We're going to focus on the guys we have here,” Fickell said. “We're not going to focus on those we don't have.”

LASER VISION: There is no question what Fickell's message has been to his team during bowl week -- focus on this game and nothing else.

It showed in the final press conference on Saturday when he sometimes interrupted questions being directed at his players.

One reporter asked center Mike Brewster to imagine what it would be like if Jim Tressel was going to coach Florida next season.

“No we're not going to talk about it,” Fickell interjected. “We're going to talk about this team, this game.”

SLOWING THEM DOWN: Although Florida's big-play production was down this season, the potential is there with speedy backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps.

Ohio State has put an emphasis on not giving up those big plays.

“Any defense comes down to not giving up the big plays,” Fickell said. “They have to grind it out on you, 10 or 15 plays down the field. It gives you a better chance. But it's still about the ability to tackle in space.”

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