Big 12: Louis Murphy

UT-Florida meet in No. 1 matchup in Big 12-SEC Challenge

July, 10, 2009
7/10/09
4:17
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Texas (Big 12 No. 1) vs. Florida (SEC No. 1)

Texas' record against the SEC: 3-3
Florida's record against the Big 12: 1-0
Previous games: Texas leads the series, 2-0-1

Most recent game: Texas won, 26-0, at Gainesville, Fla., in 1940.

Distance between them (as the crow flies according to How Far Is It): 925 miles.
Where they should play: New Orleans, La. (457 miles to Gainesville, 468 miles to Austin)

Who wins: Florida.

Why: The consensus battle between the preseason No. 1 and No. 2 teams would have everything.

And while some Texas fans have tried to state their case of beating the Gators by pointing out how they defeated defending national champion USC for the 2005 national title in similar circumstances, these Gators are a little different than those Trojans.

I'm not thinking the Gators will be nearly as complacent. If anything, their defense should be better next season with the return of all of their defensive starters and all but one of the top 22 players from last season's two-deep. And as disruptive as the Gators played late last season (12.9 points per game over their final eight games) under Charlie Strong, it's not a big stretch to say that they will be improved this year.

Tim Tebow worked on his mechanics since the end of last season and will be driven to claim his third national championship. Louis Murphy and Percy Harvin will be missed as receiving threats and the returning players might have trouble against Texas' deep and talented secondary -- arguably the strength of its team.

Speedy running backs like Chris Rainey and Jeffery Demps would give the Gators an element of athleticism that would be difficult for Texas to match.

The Longhorns will have some offensive weapons, but I don't like their chances of beating top teams like the Gators without some kind of running threat besides Colt McCoy. Maybe freshman Chris Whaley will develop into that player as the season progresses. But I don't like Texas' chances against a swarming defense like Florida's if McCoy has to run the ball too often.

And also don't discount the edge that Florida might have because of defensive line coach Dan McCarney, who knows a thing or two about the Longhorns from his time coaching Iowa State.

It would be a great game. But in the end, Tebow and Florida's speed would boost the Gators to the mythical victory.

The count: SEC, 7-5.

Note: Matchups are determined by the most recent rankings of Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin and SEC blogger Chris Low. All cumulative records go back to the 1996 season -- the first of competition in the Big 12.

Franks expects challenge from Florida's receivers

January, 4, 2009
1/04/09
4:57
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Even as he discounted Florida quarterback Tim Tebow among his ranking of top Big 12 quarterbacks, Oklahoma cornerback Dominique Franks doesn't have any reason to diminish some of Tebow's weapons.

Franks said he is impressed with Florida's athleticism at wide receiver as the Sooners prepare for Thursday's FedEx BCS National Championship Game.

"Those guys have a lot of speed and I expect a lot of deep balls to test us vertically," Franks said. "We're going to have to make sure we don't give up any big plays and keep everything in front of us. And when they do catch the ball, we have to make sure we get them down on the ground and not get any yardage after the catch."

The Gators have five receivers who have more than 10 catches and average more than 14.5 yards per catch. Their prime playmakers are two threats who both averaged a stout 17.0 yards per catch. Senior Louis Murphy leads the Gators with 36 catches and junior running back/wide receiver Percy Harvin paces the team with seven TD grabs and also averaged 8.8 yards per carry and scored nine TDs on only 61 carries.

"This is going to be another great test," Franks said. "We haven't faced receivers this fast. Especially the way that Tebow throws the ball -- he just throws it up and they go get it. We have to know what's coming."

Harvin sustained a sprained ankle in the Gators' victory over Florida State and didn't see action in Florida's SEC title game triumph over Alabama. Coach Urban Meyer said he expects Harvin to play in Thursday's game.

Franks said he wants to beat the Gators with Harvin healthy for Thursday's game.

"We don't want any excuses," Franks said. "I hope he plays. He's a great player and even when he's not 100 percent, just being on the field will give them a whole different dynamic in the offense. All those guys are fast, but we just don't want to let them into open space. I think we'll be ready for the challenge."

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