Harvin's return proves scary for Sooners

January, 9, 2009
1/09/09
2:27
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

MIAMI -- If you're of the defensive persuasion, it's one of the scariest sights in all of football.

Percy Harvin in the open field with a little bit of daylight ... even when he's got a bum ankle.

"I knew what was coming," Florida safety Major Wright beamed. "He put a move on me in practice this week, and I said, 'Yep, he's back.'"

 
  Paul Abell/US Presswire
  Florida's Percy Harvin did a little of everything in the Gators' win Thursday night.

The Oklahoma defenders are probably still clutching at air, looking up with that bewildering scowl and seeing No. 1 blazing down the field.

When you start doling out "best this" and "best that" in the realm of college football, Harvin's name is right there at the top in a couple of different categories.

On Thursday night, he was the best player on the field -- period. And that's saying something when Tim Tebow's your quarterback.

"Percy just sort of breaks a defense's spirit," Florida senior receiver Louis Murphy said. "You might play him OK for a couple of plays, and then he pops a big one. And after he pops one, he's going to pop another and another."

For a guy with a badly sprained right ankle and reports swirling before the game that he might have re-injured his ankle earlier in the week, Harvin was at his warp-speed best in Florida's 24-14 victory over Oklahoma in the FedEx BCS National Championship Game.

When the Gators needed a big play, he gave it to them.

The junior running back/receiver led Florida with 122 yards rushing on nine carries, averaging 13.6 yards per carry. He also had five catches for 49 yards.

He had a 46-yard run in the second quarter after the Gators had to start at their own 3. He had a 52-yard run in the fourth quarter to set up the Gators' go-ahead field goal.

But what pleased Harvin the most was the toughness the Gators showed.

"Everybody wondered about how tough we were," said Harvin, whose 2-yard touchdown run on a direct snap in the third quarter gave Florida a 14-7 lead. "I think we answered that question. We were the tougher team, and that's why we're national champions.

"Every time you win one of these, it feels a little better."

The question that's on the minds of every Florida fan right now as he or she celebrates the Gators' second BCS national championship in the last three years is: Why not hang around and try to win a third one?

Harvin said that's not as farfetched as some might think.

"We've all talked about coming back next season," said Harvin, referring to teammates Brandon Spikes and Tebow. "This never gets old. It's just exciting to be a part of this and be a part of a team that does everything for each other."

The frustrating thing for the Sooners' defense was that they made Florida look ordinary on offense in the first half Thursday. But Harvin was there to rescue the Gators every time they needed a play.

Oklahoma cornerback Dominique Franks said Harvin's 46-yard run off the goal line was one of the biggest plays of the game.

"That one hurt," Franks said. 'We had them backed up on our own goal line, and he went for 40 or 50. That took a lot out of our defense."

Sprained ankle or no sprained ankle, Franks knew what the Sooners were getting into in trying to defend Harvin, who kept his streak alive by scoring a touchdown in the 15th straight game in which he's played.

"That's what great players do in big games," Franks said. "They show up to play, and he was going to lead his team to victory [Thursday]."

The only knock on Harvin is that he hasn't been very durable. Injuries have plagued him throughout his career.

There's a chance he may play running back in the NFL or be one of those hybrid guys. There's also a chance he may put off the NFL for a year. And, yes, he insists he's serious.

"We've got something special going on here," Harvin said.

Special enough for the Big Three to all come back and try to win another one?

"It could happen. It really could," said Harvin, wearing his customary easy smile.

Now there's a scary thought for the rest of college football.

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