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Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Prediction: Gators will beat Sooners with speed

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Here's how I think Thursday's FedEx BCS National Championship Game will play out.

Florida 35, Oklahoma 31 -- The biggest question remains how Oklahoma's defense responds after being repeatedly dissed by the Gators. After being trashed for the last week by several mouthy Florida players, Oklahoma should be suitably inspired.

But it still won't be enough. Both teams' offenses will have their moments and this matchup between Heisman Trophy winners Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford will be more noteworthy than the forgettable Jason White-Matt Leinart game in 2005.

The biggest edges for Florida are their special teams and their speed along the defensive front. Only one team has been able to pressure Oklahoma all season. If the Gators follow the model that Texas speed-rushers Brian Orakpo and Sergio Kindle provided for them, they should be able to make Bradford uncomfortable in the pocket.

Also, look for Florida to exploit Oklahoma's undisciplined kick coverage team for a big return by Brandon James. And if the game is close, Florida has an edge in the kicking game between senior Jonathan Phillips over redshirt freshman Jimmy Stevens for the Sooners. The Gators should be able to use those advantages to wear down Oklahoma in the second half and cruise to the victory.

And in case you might be asking, this pick might be the kiss of death for the Gators, considering I'm picking them. My record for the bowls hasn't been very good as I've been a rather pedestrian 3-3 so far. And I'll take my lumps after picking Oklahoma State, Clemson and Texas Tech to win their games. I've been right on Texas, Kansas and Missouri.

Here are my records for the season:

Record for last week: 1-2 (33.3 percent)

Record for the season: 87-16 (84.5 percent)