On This Date in Sports January 8, 2007

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In the first standalone BCS National Championship Game, #2 Florida upsets #1 Ohio State at University in Glendale, Arizona. Things started great for the Buckeyes as Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kick, 93 yards for a touchdown. The rest of the way, it was all Gators, as Florida as they scored the next 21 points and took control of the game as Chris Leak led the attack with 213 yards passing and one touchdown.

From the start of the season, it was clear that 2006 was the year of the Buckeyes coached by Jim Tressel, as they began the seasons as the number one ranked team. In the second game of the season, Ohio State passed their first test, beating #2 Texas, the reigning National Champions 24-7 on the road. Holding the #1 ranking all season, Ohio State’s biggest test came in their annual showdown against Michigan. For the first time, the two bitter Big Ten rivals went into The Game unbeaten and ranked first and second in the country. The game was one of the best in the series as Ohio State won 42-39 helping to catapult quarterback Troy Smith to win the Heisman Trophy.

Florida coached by Urban Meyer started the season ranked #7, as they were one of the top teams in the SEC. A lot of the curiosity of the Gators centered around Freshman quarterback Tim Tebow, who often brought thrills to the game when he replaced Chris Leak. After winning their first six games, the Gators suffered a letdown against #11 Auburn, losing 27-17 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Gators would rebound to win the remainder of their games, including a 38-28 win over Arkansas in the SEC Championship Game to finish with a 12-1 record.

While Ohio State, was a no-brainer choice to play in the BCS Championship, there was a great deal of debate over who should be #2. Many wanted to see a rematch with Michigan who at 11-1 was ahead for Florida in the polls before the Gators won the SEC Championship. When Florida was announced as the #2 team, many in Ann Arbor were unhappy, feeling they were hurt by having Michigan’s season end earlier than Florida. However, when the Wolverines were beaten by USC in the Rose Bowl 32-18 the controversy was largely quelled.

With Ohio State a seven-point favorite, it appeared the route was on when Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. However, in a sign of things to come, Ginn was injured in the celebration and missed the remainder of the game. The Gators quickly answered as Chris Leak connected with Dallas Baker on a 14-yard touchdown pass. After forcing Ohio State to punt, Florida took a 14-7 on a four-yard run by Percy Harvin. The Gators continued to dominate the first quarter, with a ten-play 71-yard drive, that saw DeShawn Wynn make it 21-7 with a two-yard run on the first play of the second quarter. Ohio State got back on track with their next drive as Antonio Pittman scored on an 18-yard run to cut the deficit to 21-14. However, the Buckeyes defense continued to falter as Chris Hetland his a 43-yard field goal. On the next Ohio State drive, Jim Tressel rolled the dice by going for it at their own 29. After Chris Wells was stopped short, Hetland added a second field goal to make the score 27-14. The Buckeyes found themselves sinking even deeper when Jarvis Moss stripped Troy Smith to put the Florida offense back on the field. This time Urban Meyer sent his freshman quarterback into the game as Tim Tebow connected with Andre Caldwell to make it 34-14 at the half. The stunned Buckeyes could not get anything going in the second half as Florida looked to control the ball. After a scoreless third quarter, Tebow capped the scoring early in the fourth quarter with a one-yard run. Florida would go on to win the game 41-14 as Chris Leak was named Offensive MVP, while Derrick Harvey was named Defensive MVP.

Three months later Florida and Ohio State would meet again for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. The Gators would win again 84-75 becoming the first team to win the NCAA Tournament and the NCAA Football National Championship in the same year. Florida’s win would start a streak of seven straight National Championships for teams from the SEC.