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Thursday, January 8, 2009
BCS title game preview: Oklahoma (12-1) vs. Florida (12-1)

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Who to watch: Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford will be trying to turn around some bad recent karma that has dogged Heisman recipients in the BCS era when the Sooners face Florida Thursday night in the FedEx BCS National Championship Game. Since 1999, only one Heisman winner has ever been able to win the national championship the same season he won the trophy. And Bradford will likely have to duplicate Matt Leinart's big performance in the 2005 game to help the Sooners win. If Bradford remains upright and the Oklahoma offensive line can protect him, the Sooners might have a chance to spring an upset. The Sooners' no-huddle offense worked to perfection down the stretch, scoring at least 61 points in each of its last five games. If he can continue that trend on Thursday, Bradford might single-handedly stop the Heisman jinx in BCS title games.

What to watch: The Sooners' defense has been disparaged throughout the week for the huge numbers it has allowed in the pass-happy Big 12 this season. The key to the Sooners' success will be the recipe it has used all season. Even though Oklahoma has been susceptible to big yardage games (allowing 400 yards per game against the Big 12), it will need to come up with the big plays that have marked their season. And a couple of early stops would be especially important to build confidence. The Sooners have provided enough big plays to rank first nationally in turnover margin, third in sacks, sixth in turnovers forced and eighth in tackles for loss. The Sooners will need those kinds of defensive stops to contain Florida's Tim Tebow, who has been intercepted only twice all season.

Why to watch: Some of Bob Stoops' big-game mystique has diminished in recent seasons with four straight BCS losses in the last five seasons. Few are giving the Sooners much hope against Florida in what should be a decided home-field advantage at Dolphin Stadium. But the last time the Sooners were in a similar predicament, they produced a defensive effort for the ages in a 13-2 stunner over Florida State in the 2001 Orange Bowl. They'll need to conjure up some magic in this game in order to spring an upset and keep the SEC from making history by claiming its third straight national championship, which hasn't been done since the Big Ten followed back-to-back championships by Minnesota in 1940 and '41 with a title by Ohio State in 1942.