If you care to join the fun, add your prediction in the comments section. A reminder that the winner gets absolutely nothing.
Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports.com: Oklahoma's defense can't match up. That doesn't mean it's bad. It means the defense is like a lot in the SEC. It just isn't a good matchup with Florida. Few are. That, plus Oklahoma's sub-standard special teams are the difference in this game. (105th in kickoff return defense allowing four touchdowns; only eight field goals all season). Oklahoma's corners can talk all the mess they want, they haven't faced a 240-pound freight train like Tim Tebow coming at them around the corner. Florida 30, Oklahoma 20. Link to site.
Brian Murphy, "The Murph and Mac Show" on KNBR 680 in San Francisco: Florida 38, Oklahoma 20. Tim Tebow adds another chapter to the legend, which will climax in challenging Obama for the White House in 2012; Bob Stoops adds another chapter to the "PostSeason Guide as Taught by Tony Dungy and Bobby Cox." Link.
Ron Barr, Sports Byline USA Radio Network: Oklahoma 31, Florida 24. Too much speed. Too much Sam Bradford. Too much offensive power. Link.
Will Leitch, founding editor of Deadspin: I'm picking Florida, because I can't possibly pick against someone who spends his offseasons circumcising children. Florida, 38-34. Link.
Brett McMurphy, Tampa Tribune: Florida 38, Oklahoma 24. Led by Tim Tebow, who would be the Big 12's fourth-best quarterback according to Oklahoma CB Dominique Franks, Florida flattens Franks and Oklahoma's defense, which would be the SEC's 10th-best defense. The Sooners lose "one for the thumb," earning their fifth consecutive BCS bowl runner-up ring. Link.
Jon Solomon, Birmingham News: Florida 38, Oklahoma 24. If in doubt, go with the team whose quarterback doesn't face the Heisman Trophy jinx, the team with the better defense, and the team whose star inherits a chip on his shoulder. Tim Tebow has entered the world of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Michael Phelps. It's a black-and-white world with no room for gray and where every unintended slight is eagerly analyzed by the media to see how it will fuel the superstar's motivation. Dominique Franks' statement that Tebow is easier to defend than the top three Big 12 quarterbacks perfectly frames the major question left in college football this season: Big 12 offense or SEC defense? More importantly, will someone finally give Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong a head coaching job after he contains Oklahoma? Link.
Tim Griffin, ESPN.com: Florida 35, Oklahoma 31. The mouthy Gators called out Oklahoma earlier this week for their defensive weaknesses. Such a challenge will have the Sooners intent to play at their best, but Florida still has too much team speed for them. Keep an eye on Florida kick return specialist Brandon James to turn around the game with a big return against Oklahoma's undisciplined kick coverage units. Link.
Brent Schrotenboer, San Diego Union-Tribune: Florida wins, 30-24. Urban Meyer's old team (Utah) and current team (Florida) appear to be the best two teams in the country right now. Too bad they can't play each other by adding one more game. Is that really too much to ask of university presidents? In this game, Meyer is the better BCS coach, and Tebow is the better Heisman Trophy quarterback. Link.
Jason McIntyre, The Big Lead: Florida 34, Oklahoma 30. Gators win the turnover battle, dominate special teams, and because Meyer is a better coach than Stoops. Link.
Dan Steinberg, D.C. Sports Blog, Washington Post: Florida, 34-30. This one's pretty obvious. If the Gators win by three or less, Dan Steinberg takes first place in his strictly recreational (yet somehow extremely lucrative) bowl pool. That virtually guarantees a four-point Florida win. Plus, let's be honest, Big 12 teams are something like 2-4 against the number in bowls thus far, while SEC teams are something like 5-2. Lock city. Link.
Mike Hlas, Cedar Rapids Gazette: Oklahoma 31, Florida 27. These two teams aren't bad. They won their conference-title games, destroyed some very good opponents, and all that. But when the winner gazes at its BCS crystal trophy, will it see its own reflection, or that of the unbeaten Fightin' Utes of Utah? Link.
Jim Dunaway, "The Dunaway & Brown Radio Experience" on 690 The Sports Animal and CBS 42 anchor in Birmingham: The only job easier than opening George W. Bush's fan mail this year was washing Sam Bradford's uniform. The guy never gets hit. The Sooner line has been the Great Wall but the Gator defensive line will play the role of Genghis Khan. Florida 37, Oklahoma 31. Link.
Drew Deener, "Early Birds Show" on WKRD 790 in Louisville: Florida, 38-24. After this game, everyone will look at the numbers the Big 12 quarterbacks put up and wonder what Tebow's numbers would have looked like against those defenses. (Unless Percy Harvin can't play, in that case disregard this prediction as the stupid ramblings of another two-bit talk show host.) Link.
Larry Brown, Larry Brown Sports: Oklahoma has looked great beating up on inferior opponents, building up its name by running up the score. When the Sooners played a team of their caliber on a neutral field, they were able to put up points but they couldn't stop the opponent. Another concern (which you hardly ever see because they're always winning) is their two-minute offense; it was dreadful against the Longhorns. When they play someone their own size, they don't look quite so hot. It should be fairly high scoring and I like the Gators to pull it out in the fourth quarter. Florida 34, Oklahoma 26. Link.
Michael Rand, Randball, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Florida 38, Oklahoma 27. It’s simple, really: Oklahoma lost to Texas. Texas barely defeated Ohio State. And Ohio State plays in the Big Ten. Florida lost focus against Ole Miss, but the conference, and the will, is strong. It will be entertaining, but ultimately clear: Florida is the better team. Link.
Joe Schad, ESPN: Florida 30, Oklahoma 24. Florida has an edge in overall speed, on special teams and at quarterback. That's right. As poised and accurate and talented as Sam Bradford is, Tim Tebow is the player any college coach would pick first to be a leader in this game. And he's mad, which is great for the Gators. Link.
Ian Rapoport, Birmingham News: Florida 33, Oklahoma 24. For the first time all season, the Sooners and Sam Bradford won't be able to sit back and pass with a clean uniform. The Gators front four is fast, so it'll get to Bradford and disrupt everything without really blitzing, causing at least one more turnover than usual. Meanwhile, OU won't be able to stop Tim Tebow from running the ball, as Big 12 defenses everywhere cringe in unison. Link.
Bobby Fenton, "The Free Stretch" on 1010 Sports WQYK in Tampa: Full disclosure, I am a graduate of the University of Florida and am going to the game. It doesn't mean I'm not objective, though. Florida 45, Oklahoma 28. If history is any guide, the more balanced team is the one that holds the belt up at the end of the night. Oklahoma's offense has bordered upon extraordinary this season, but Florida is talent laden and well-drilled in all three facets of the game, and here's to the thought that Urban Meyer and his staff, when given a month, get their guys in the best position to win. Link.
Matt Youmans, Las Vegas Review-Journal: In the game to decide the mythical national championship, the Gators own a few more edges. Florida's defense is faster and more physical than the Big 12 defenses that Oklahoma took apart. Gators quarterback Tim Tebow gets some help with the return of Percy Harvin, who adds a big-play dimension to the offense. The Heisman winner often flops in his bowl game, so don't be surprised if Sam Bradford struggles. Florida opened as a 3-point favorite — the line is up to 4 — and the total is about 70. I bet the Gators at 3. Florida 37, Oklahoma 30. Link.
Adam Rose, All Things Trojan and What's Bruin, Los Angeles Times: This is a great quarterfinal game (the winner advancing with Utah, USC, and Texas), but a mismatch for the national championship. Oklahoma's defense ranks 98th nationally in pass defense, 63rd in total defense, and 58th in scoring defense. Granted, those numbers are ugly because of their explosive Big 12 opponents, but Florida is faster and more athletic than any of the so-called "video game offenses." Oklahoma's best strategy is to hog the football, but they won't be able to against a Gator unit that ranks 2nd in pass efficiency defense, 4th in scoring defense, and 8th in total defense. Both sides of the punting game favor Florida, too, and this may be the first time all season that field position matters to Oklahoma (scary thought: an opponent that plays defense). Final score? Florida 44, Oklahoma 31 (Sooners close the gap in garbage time). Link and link.
Chris Plank, Tulsa's 1430 The Buzz and weekend host of "The Third Shift" on Fox Sports Radio: Even though Tim Tebow can do no wrong, and by that I mean what ESPN has told me ... I think Oklahoma is the better team. Florida may have better athletes, but to me OU is the better team. But, but, but... I have seen teams that I thought were just as good as this Sooner team if not better go into bowl games and get smoked. So here is an acid trip of an explanation as to why OU will win. The key is the play of the Oklahoma offensive line. If Sam spends any time on his back or if the Sooners are unable to establish the running game, then it could be trouble time for OU. Also the long break between the Big 12 Championship game and the BCS Championship game likely affects OU more because the Sooners have a timing-based offense and time off could hurt. (Does this sound like a guy who has picked OU in the past and has been burned or what?) With that said I still like the Sooners. All this talk about Florida having the best defense OU has faced ... let us not forget OU is by far the best offense that Florida has faced. I like the Sooners, 35-31, and if they happen to lose to Florida I say Bob Stoops becomes a big time candidate for Denver! Link.
J.P. Giglio, Raleigh News & Observer: The way the Big 12 has played, it makes sense to pick Florida, as does the location, the Heisman factor and Oklahoma's BCS track record. Nothing really screams OU, other than that Madden offense. But there is the relative success, or at least exposure of OU's defense against the spread offense (Texas Tech, Mizzou, Cincinnati and OK State). Given that Ohio State actually showed up for a BCS game, maybe OU can do the same. For the sake of being a contrarian, I'll go Boomer Sooner, 45-31. Link.
Bruce Feldman, ESPN.com: Florida 38, Oklahoma 31: I think Florida's secondary will be as good as OU has seen all year and should be good enough to hold OU below 35 points for the first time this season. I expect Tim Tebow and the UF speed to hit on a few big plays and also to capitalize on a few mistakes from the Sooners' shaky kickoff coverage unit (105th in the nation). Link.
Dan Rubenstein, SI Tour Guy: Florida 35, Oklahoma 24: I think Florida's defense probably isn't as good as it may seem and I think Oklahoma's is better than it seems. That said, the game is in the state of Florida, Oklahoma's best RB (and best chance to balance the offense) is out, and I'm never crazy about a team throwing 40-plus times against a good defense, which seems like it will be the case with the Sooners. I think the ultimate downfall of Oklahoma isn't necessarily the speed of the Gators, but rather the persistence of a Florida rushing attack that comes at you from a variety of angles and in all different sizes. Oh, and Tim Tebow is good at football. Link.
Bob Condotta, Seattle Times: Florida 37, Oklahoma 31. In a matchup of two Heisman Trophy quarterbacks, the more versatile one gets the win as Tim Tebow uses all of his talents to shred an OU defense that gave up an awful lot of points for a team contending for the national title. Ultimately, it is that defense that will do in the Sooners. Link.
Brooks of Sports By Brooks: As a Georgia alum, as much as it pains me to say, Tim Tebow will be a stellar pro, and is your MVP on Thursday — with or without Percy Harvin playing a significant role. Florida 35, Oklahoma 27. Link.
Stewart Mandel, SI.com: Florida 45, Oklahoma 27. Tim Tebow and the Gators' plethora of speed guys will exploit Oklahoma's suspect defenders in space, and for the first time since Texas, the Sooners will be facing a defense that can slow then down a bit. Link.
Pete Thamel, New York Times: Florida 42, Oklahoma 28. The Gators defense is the best that Oklahoma has seen this season, and the extra prep time will have them in good enough conditioning to handle the tempo of the no-huddle spread. Florida's two biggest advantages are special teams and that Tebow guy, who will both loom large on Thursday night. Link.
Awful Announcing: Florida wins, 27-21, because you don't not tug on Superman's cape (*ahem* Dominique Franks!) and expect him not to unleash hell on you. Link.
Erik of Deep South Sports: Florida 45, Oklahoma 27: And that's being conservative. Florida is world class on both sides of the ball. Oklahoma has the best offense in the Big 12 Flag Football Conference. Dan Hawkins was right. This is the SEC. This ain't intramurals, brother. Link.
Matt Hayes, The Sporting News: Florida, 38-28. At some point the Florida defense will figure out OU's offense. I can't see the Sooners stopping the Florida offense. Link.
Michael Rothstein, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: Florida 35, Oklahoma 34. Since Florida lost to Ole Miss in September, Tim Tebow has looked like a different player. He said he'd essentially never again let his team play like they did in a 31-30 loss to the Rebels and has delivered. Plus, he seems genuinely peeved he didn't win the Heisman. Rarely in football can one player determine the outcome of a game by himself, but you can't discount Tebow in this one. Combine it with the fact that the Gators have played for the national championship recently and that Bob Stoops has struggled in bowl games the past few years and it seems destined for another Florida title. Link.
Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune: Florida 37, Oklahoma 27. The Heisman voters who snubbed Tim Tebow in favor of Sam Bradford will want their ballots back. To borrow a line from the Blues Brothers, Tebow is on a mission from God. Link.
John Walters, NBC Sports.com: Florida 33, Oklahoma 31. Florida's speed on defense proves to be the difference. Link.
The National Championship Issue: Prediction: Florida 42, Oklahoma 35. In an attempt to make the rationale behind my call different from others, let me just say this — I think Florida can handle the unexpected better than Oklahoma. Tebow has the strength to improvise, while Bradford is shaky if he gets dirty. There'll be a lot of twists and turns in this one, and I think the Gators have the better chance of hanging on. Link.
Sam Chi, BCS Guru: Florida 41, Oklahoma 24. The Big 12 South's allegedly vaunted offenses have been thoroughly exposed in the bowl season. Both Oklahoma State and Texas Tech got beat and Texas barely eeked out a last-minute win against a very ordinary Ohio State team. OU's prolific offense may be the best of the bunch, but it won't score at will against Florida's speedy defense. And the Sooners simply will have no answer for Tim Tebow. The Gators will save the BCS from a split championship by also taking the AP title. Link.
Jim Young, ACC Sports.com: Florida 35, Oklahoma 24. Why? Because we in ACC territory have been brainwashed to accept the superiority of our SEC neighbors without exception. That and the Big 12's weak bowl performance make me question just how dominating the Oklahoma offense really is. That said, I'm nervous that so many people are leaping on the Gators' bandwagon. Kinda reminds me of 2007, when everyone was really psyched about the economy. Link.
Losers With Socks: Brothers and sisters of the Gator and Sooner Nations, I dream of a bowl system where the country realizes that all others are playing for #2 or #3 or #4 (Utah and USC can suck it) in the BCS, and that jealousy of Florida and Oklahoma leads to nothing but self-loathing and disappointment. True class, both schools and their coaches. Any BCS bowl would be lucky to have either team as they are just nothing but class. Thankfully the pollsters have taken into account how classy these two teams are with their 'near misses' against Ole Miss and Texas respectively.
Surely any expert can see they should have won those games. It just goes to show how much better OU and UF are than every other team. I do want to make a comment on the impact of these high-scoring offenses.
Style points were not a factor at all for either team. Memo to Randy Shannon: Coach Meyer was trying to develop a Lou Groza winner when he went for the extra FG at the end of the game. Merely executing part of the long-term plan.
I know the *pundits* and the liberal left-wing sports media say that USC should be playing against one of these fine 50-point scoring teams. But there is a good reason why the Trojans are watching the game on TV:
After evaluating USC's performance against Penn State, I came to the conclusion that running 20 dive on every first down does not show me that the Trojans have a winning staff. They are as creative as fourth graders. Facts are facts. Does the Pete Carroll know that play-action is legal in college football? They stand over there like a Crompton in the headlights. I was ready to see somebody take the *&* @%&^ bull by the horns and play call like champions. It is not 1965. The athletes are bigger and faster. You have to be creative! I don't give a *&$% if Colin Cowherd whines or not, USC you did not play to win! So you stay at home!
At least when Sooners and Gators lose, they lose with class unlike the USCs or Texas or Alabamas who blame the refs. I predict a 41-20 victory for the gates. It could be worse but Herban Meyer is too classy to run up the score. Link.
Thanks to Image of Sport.