Florida Gators (12-1)
University of Phoenix Stadium
(not Pink Taco Stadium), Glendale AZ.
Vegas says ADVANTAGE: BUCKEYES
Ohio State favored by 7.5, and the number is set at 48.5 - that extra half point could come into play very easily if this game is as close and low scoring as expected when two of the nation's best defenses meet in the arid desert.
Gotta give an edge on the expectation scale to Ohio State with their 9-3 against the spread (ATS) record this year whereas the Gators played many games much tighter than the smart money thought, only finishing 4-8 ATS. While the Gators come through in the clutch (5-0 in games decided by less than 7 this year), there are few teams in the naton with that poor of a cover record. No like opponents.
EFFICIENCY STATS say BIG ADVANTAGE TO BUCKEYES
Looking at my favorite efficiency stats illustrate just how hard each team has to work to score, as well as how hard they make the opponent work.
- "yards per play" (yppl)
- "yards per point" (yppt)
- turnover margin
- 3rd down conversions
The other number strongly in the Ohio favor is turnover margin - both teams forced 27 turnovers, but the Gators gave it up 24 times and the Buckeyes only 16.
On third down, the standout number is the Buckeyes 51% conversion rate on offense (NCAA #4) versus Gators 33.9% allowed (NCAA #35).
The rest of the comps are pretty tight, but an overwhelming edge to the Buckeyes here. Of course this only highlights potential results - these same numbers suggested that Rice had a big edge over Troy earlier in the bowl season, but when the Owls back up QB couldn't make anything happen Troy kicked their behinds.
IN THE TRENCHES BARELY FAVORS THE BUCKEYES
When Ohio State has the ball, the Gators should be able to stand up to the Big Ten maulers. I would expect underrated RB Antonio Pittman to still get his 100yds and a touch, but the Gators have the most athletic front four the Buckeyes have looked at all year (even with the dismassal of Marcus Thomas), including Michigan.
The real issue for the Gators again will be when they have the ball. A talented O-line has battled depth issues all year, but the Buckeyes young front four has performed extremely well this year. Any injury or nick to the Gators offensive line will spell trouble for the safety of QB Chris Leak.
MASCOT EDGE TO THE GATORS
An alligator is a ferocious reptile that thrives in the heat of the peninsula. Gators attack pets and humans with equal disdain when they get too close to lakes and swamps, killing 11 people this decade.
The buckeye is the state tree of Ohio, but is well known for its poisonous nut. Many around the country are familiar with the dessert treat consisting of rolled peanut butter diiped in chocolate that results in a striking resemblance to the nut.
Advantage carnivore over the confection.
COOL STATS (thanks, Phil Steele)
Ohio State scored 45 more touchdowns than their opponents.
Ohio State has lost the last six vs. SEC (last win LSU in 1988).
Florida most penalized team in the SEC (65ypg).
Florida plays more freshman than any top ten team
Florida's Urban Meyer in 3-0 ATS and SU in bowl games.
FUN THINGS TO LOOK FOR
The battle of the nations top playmakers - Percy Harvin and Ted Ginn Jr. Ginn is the one with all the press and expectations, but don't be surprised to see Harvin line up in four different positions to make big plays for the Gators.
How the Buckeyes react to the two-headed QB system of the Gators. They have seen similar things from Bowling Green, Indiana and Illinois this year, but nothing like the "Leak by air, Tebow by ground" show from Gainesville.
Great links from around the web... (I will add as deserved)
SI: SEC Speed superiority?
USA Today: Gators score without points