Football

John Clay: Gators' Meyer has SEC's back

We SEC elitists are a little skittish right now.

We were saddened watching the pass-happy Ol' Ball Coach fade into the Ol' The Game Has Passed Him By Coach when Steve Spurrier and South Carolina were exposed by Iowa in the Outback Bowl.

We gasped as the iron will of Nick Saban was reduced to a soft pillow when Alabama was stunned by Utah — yes, Utah — in the Sugar Bowl.

We've heard all those assurances from all those Okies about how this is the year Bob "Oops" Stoops returns to "Big Game Bob," about how this is the occasion Sam Bradford proves he was indeed Heisman-worthy.

We've heard the predictions from some quarters claiming this is the BCS title game in which Oklahoma will fly by Florida like the wind rushing down the plain, thereby puncturing the SEC's claim as the nation's best college football conference.

Relax, fellow SEC elitists.

We have the Urbanator.

Urban Meyer is why the Florida Gators will claim their second BCS crown in three years — the SEC's fifth — by scorching the Sooners in South Florida on Thursday night.

Unlike his Oklahoma counterpart, who has lost four straight BCS games, no coach in America is a better big-game coach than the non-smiling, no-nonsense leader in Gainesville, Fla.

When the Urbanator was first lifting Utah to new heights, it was Meyer who directed the Utes to a Fiesta Bowl pasting of Pittsburgh just as the football purists were arguing that a Mountain West team had no business being in a BCS game.

Two years ago, even with the ill-fitted Chris Leak running his offense, the Gators won the SEC East, beat Darren McFadden and Arkansas in the SEC Championship Game, talked their way into the BCS title tilt, then celebrated as Meyer completely outschemed Ohio State 41-14.

Yes, I know, Meyer's offensive coordinator, Dan Mullen, had his full attention on winning the crystal trophy that year. This time, as new head coach at Mississippi State, Mullen has been busy trying to talk assistant coaches into coming to Starkville. Worry is the Gators' OC hasn't had enough time to prepare for the defense of OU.

To which we SEC elitists say, what defense? For all those who argued that the Big 12 big offensive numbers had everything to do with sonic-boom offenses and nothing to do with deficient defenses, let's look at the bowl box scores.

Without a Tim Tebow at quarterback, Oregon gained 565 yards on Oklahoma State. Without a Tim Tebow at quarterback, Mississippi gained 515 yards on Texas Tech. Without a Tim Tebow at quarterback, even Ohio State's grind-it-out attack totaled 391 yards on Texas.

Which is another thing: The fact that Texas, the team that beat Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout, the team that should be playing in this BCS title game, needed a last-minute drive to clip Ohio State in this year's Fiesta Bowl is not good news for the Sooners.

Neither is the man on the Florida sideline, or his wrecking ball of a team.

I admit, early on I had my doubts. I wasn't ready to buy the Meyer hype when he parachuted into the conference. He was a little too serious, a little too certain, a little too earnest for my taste. But now, four years and his second BCS title game later, I've come to the stark realization that maybe he's just a little too good.

No reason to feel skittish, we SEC elitists.

The Sooners are sunk.

The Urbanator will have it all under control.

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