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Thursday, January 8, 2009
Pregame report from Dolphin Stadium

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

MIAMI -- I just wandered briefly among the clutter of people along the Oklahoma sideline at Dolphin Stadium. The stadium is still less than half full and appears to be about 80 percent Florida fans so far.

There seems to be definite electricity surging through the stadium, no different from any of the nine previous national championship games I've covered. You can tell this one is a little extra special, though.

I got a chance to see celebrities like New England coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft sizing up the talent on the field. I also watched Florida running back/wide receiver Percy Harvin run a couple of pass patterns without too much pain, despite pregame reports of a tweaked ankle suffered in practice earlier this week.

The Sooners look loose and prepared. There were no pregame incidents involving either team, despite some beefed-up security because of some of the things said earlier in the week.

Here are a couple of other last-minute factors to watch:

Weather: It's currently 74 degrees with 50 percent humidity and hardly any wind. I can't imagine conditions being any more ideal. Temperatures are expected to drop into the high 60s as the game continues with no chance of rain.

Injuries: The Sooners are in pretty good shape with the exception of missing two key players. Running back DeMarco Murray, the Sooners' leading breakaway threat and top kick returner, will miss the game with a torn hamstring sustained in the Big 12 championship game. It means that Chris Brown will get most of the carries with Mossis Madu filling in at times as well. Both of the backs rushed for 100 yards and scored three touchdowns against Missouri.

Backup defensive tackle Demarcus Granger will miss the game after undergoing back surgery. Granger contributed 20 tackles and will be replaced in the rotation by Cory Bennett.

Mike Balogun will be starting at middle linebacker, although Austin Box said earlier this week he is nearly 100 percent and should be ready to play. Look for Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops to play Balogun until he makes a bust. Then, it wouldn't surprise me to see Box play.