How well did things go for Florida in its win over Ohio State in the BCS title game Monday at University of Phoenix Stadium? This well. Coming into the game, Gators kicker Chris Hetland had made just 4-of-13 field goal attempts this season with just one made beyond 30 yards in 10 tries.
While some prognosticators thought the game might even turn on that fact, Hetland was pining for a shot at redemption.
On Monday, Hetland drilled two second-quarter attempts, one from 43 yards and one from 40, making those boots the two longest of his season.
The field goals were the only two attempts of the game for Hetland, who justified coach Urban Meyer’s continued faith in him.
“I talked about wanting to hit a game-winning field goal tonight but hell, this is better,” Hetland said.
“We beat them by 27 points. Is there any doubt?”
The Southeastern Conference has been tough on Ohio State. The Buckeyes are now 0-8 all time against the SEC in bowl games following Monday’s loss to Florida in the BCS title game.
Included in that streak of futility were back-to-back losses to South Carolina in consecutive Outback Bowls in 2000-01 and 2001-02.
Ohio State is just 7-6-1 all time against the SEC during the regular season, and six of those wins came against weaker SEC schools Kentucky and Vanderbilt (OSU is just 1-5-1 against Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee combined).
Ted Ginn Jr.’s opening 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was the first kickoff returned for a score in a BCS national championship game. It electrified the Ohio State fans, but the return fell 5 yards short of the Ohio State postseason record. That honor belongs to Keith Byars, who had a 99-yarder vs. Pittsburgh in the 1984 Fiesta Bowl.
The kickoff return for a TD was just the second of Ginn’s career at Ohio State, but that was enough to tie him with two other players for the OSU career record.
Former Mesa Mountain View High School and Ohio State quarterback Joe Germaine was on hand for Monday’s game, rooting on the Buckeyes. Germaine had two sets of fans in the stands.
When Germaine’s Buckeyes stunned Arizona State with a last-second drive in the 1997 Rose Bowl (played in January after the 1996 season), Florida earned the national championship by beating Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.
“I’ve had a lot of conversations with Florida fans this week who have thanked me for beating ASU,” said Germaine, now a quarterback with the Salt Lake City Blaze of the Arena Football League. “It’s funny to have people remember it and say that.”
NO LONGER PERFECT
Until Monday, Ohio State had been 4-0 in school history in games involving teams ranked No. 1 vs. No. 2. That includes wins against Texas and Michigan this year and a 31-24 double-overtime victory over top-ranked Miami, Fla., in the 2002 national championship Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3, 2003.
The first-half points total (48, 34-14) tied for the most in a BCS title game (2005 Orange Bowl).