The Florida Gators have won U.S. college football's Bowl Championship Series (BCS) national title with a thrilling 24-14 victory over the top ranked Oklahoma Sooners.
After a scoreless first quarter in Miami's Dolphin Stadium, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Louis Murphy. Oklahoma retaliated when Sam Bradford found Jermaine Gresham in the endzone for a six-yard score. The teams would trade scores again in the second half to be deadlocked at 14 points each.
But key plays by the second ranked Gators turned the game to their advantage. A blocked Oklahoma field goal attempt and an interception of Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Sam Bradford resulted in the final 10 points.
Florida kicker Jonathan Phillips booted a 27-yard field goal and David Nelson caught a four-yard touchdown reception to seal the win.
Gators head coach Urban Meyer, who has now won two national titles in three years, praised the resiliency of his team.
"This is one of the best teams in college football history," he said. "At a great institution like Florida, you should be able to compete for championships. But these guys overcame a lot. And I am awful proud of them."
Florida completes its season with 13 wins and just one loss, while Oklahoma is 12-2.
The only blemish on their record came with a (31-30) defeat to Mississippi. Tim Tebow says that loss brought a renewed focus to the team.
"I think we were motivated from that," he said. "I think we learned that we have to come out every week with passion and enthusiasm and play for each other. And I think that is what we did."
Tebow won the Heisman Trophy last season as college football's top individual player, while Oklahoma's Sam Bradford won the honor this season. The two quarterbacks finished the championship game with nearly identical statistics. Tebow threw for 231 yards while Bradford had 256. Both completed a pair of touchdowns and had two interceptions.
The BCS pairs the top two ranked teams in what it calls a national championship game. The teams are ranked by a combination of polls and computer formulas. But the BCS process is not favored by many fans. Division One football is the only U.S. collegiate sport that does not have a playoff to determine its champion. At least three other teams (USC, Texas and Utah) say they have a legitimate claim for the 2009 national title.