UC-Florida Sugar Bowl preview

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After weeks of build-up, after Brian Kelly left and was replaced by Jeff Quinn who will be replaced by Butch Jones once the Sugar Bowl is over, after Urban Meyer resigned and then changed his mind, after Tim Tebow continued to inspire the masses and after Mardy Gilyard put himself on the national media map, UC finally will get its chance to compete against Florida.


But what kind of chance do the Bearcats have to pull off an upset - and let's be clear: although UC is ranked ahead of the Gators, this would be a pretty big upset - and finish the season 13-0?


Well, it's going to be tough, real tough. The Florida offense isn't just all-world QB Tim Tebow. It's also Aaron Hernandez - the Mackey Award winner for the top tight end in the country. It's also WR Riley Cooper. It's also C Maurkice Pouncey, the Rimington Trophy winner.


Remember, this is also a team that averages 34.7 points per game (while allowing only 11.5), 5.6 yards per rush and 442.4 total yards per game.


But yeah, it kinda always comes back to Tebow, eh?


"They have a tremendous amount of weapons," defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs said. "He's one of the best college football players in the history of the game - if not the best. We've been honest with our kids. Twenty years from now, when they talk about the Sugar Bowl of 2010, they may be talking about the greatest player in college football history being on that field. That's a reality. It'd be foolish not to acknowledge that.


"At the same time, our players don't feel like that it's an insurmountable task. He's a remarkable leader and a great young man. But our job is to do everything we can to control and contain - whatever word you want to use - him as best we can. They've got such an awesome sponsoring cast with a great offensive line, the most athletic and physical."


Said senior linebacker Andre Revels: "Tebow's game is his leadership, the effort he puts forth and the way he rallies his teammates around him. That seems to be his biggest thing. I don't think we're specifically saying we need to beat Tim Tebow in his last game to make him feel bad about life. We're just here to get wins, to strive for perfection. The rest of their offense is amazing. It's not about one guy. Their whole offense is electric. We need to show up and be electric with them."


--Conventional wisdom says the Gators likely will be quicker than the Bearcats today, and that's most likely true, especially Florida's defense facing UC's offense. But, as sophomore running back Isaiah Pead attests, the Bearcats aren't exactly slow.


"They do a lot of things for a reason that other teams wouldn't do," he said. "They blitz to cause confusion; they don't just blitz to make the play. That's a well-coached team. But they're not superhumans. They can be beat. They've got speed. We've got speed."


--By all accounts, this year's trip to New Orleans has been different from the one last year to Miami for the Orange Bowl. Which makes sense. The first time the Bearcats played in a BCS bowl game, they were bound to be blinded by all the flashing lights and attention that comes by playing in a game of that caliber.


The hotel and the guests that stayed there last year would be enough to distract anybody. This year apparently has been different. In part, it's because of what the Bearcats learned last season.


"Just the preparation it takes," senior QB Tony Pike said before the team left for New Orleans. "Obviously, it was a great honor to go to the Orange Bowl, and I think we went overboard and enjoyed the experience a little too much. We know we're going to enjoy the Sugar Bowl and New Orleans, but we know we're going to go down there to get a win."


--<b>Prediction</b>: The question, though, is this: will you, as a Bearcats fan, enjoying watching the tilt tonight? I'm not sure. For every game I've picked, I've chosen the Bearcats to win, and of course, I'm also undefeated. As Michael Buffer likes to say, somebody's O has got to go, because I'm going the other way. Florida will be too much for UC. Too much speed. Too much physicality. Too much talent. The Bearcats will make it respectable, but I'd be really surprised if they win. Say, Florida 38, UC 24.

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