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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Florida defats the Buckeyes 24-17 - Meyer Update - The Best Helmets Ever

The best of the all-day bowl-a-thon.

1. Oregon's helmets. We knew the Ducks' helmets for today's trip to Pasadena were going to be different, but the promotional photos released by Nike last week didn't really convey just how bizarre the mirrored lids were going to look in action. Rather than the ominous, Darth Vader-y look suggested by the darkened photo shoot, it looks like someone is wearing a freshly polished chrome fender off a 1967 Firebird.
They're not doing anyone in the late afternoon sun any favors, either: ESPN's in-game broadcasters, Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit, complained in the first quarter that the glare from the lids made it difficult to identify players' numbers from the press box. They were so distracting during pregame warmups that there was some discussion of whether the mirrored look was even legal. (It is.)
By contrast, you can barely tell that Wisconsin is doing anything different with its uniforms at all. But then, something tells me the Badgers are just fine with that.

2. South Carolina's defensive line. The Gamecocks sacked Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez six times en route to a 30-13 win in the Capital One Bowl, confirming its front four as one of the nastiest in the country — and re-confirming freshman defensive end Jadeveon Clowney as the emerging terror he was projected to be after adding two more sacks against the Cornhuskers to his season total. After hitting paydirt on its first two offensive possessions, Nebraska didn't score again and wound up with season lows for total yards (252) and points.

3. Shugarts' streak continues. With a false start penalty in the first quarter of the Gator Bowl, Ohio State offensive lineman J.B. Shugarts finishes his college career with at least one offsides penalty in four consecutive bowl games, and in 24 total games over the course of his career. Hey man, you gotta leave as you lived.

The Buckeyes lost to Florida, 24-17, securing their first losing record since 1999.

Florida defats the Buckeyes 24-17

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida's Jaye Howard timed the snap perfectly, blew through two defenders and violently slammed Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller to the ground.
"I had a lot of frustrations, man," Howard said. "Urban brought it out in me today."
Urban Meyer's future team got a good look at his former team, and the Buckeyes learned just how fast the Gators can be.
Florida's defense and special teams came up big in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, recording six sacks and scoring twice as the Gators beat Ohio State 24-17 on Monday.
Andre Debose returned a kickoff 99 yards -- the longest scoring play in bowl history and Chris Rainey blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown.
The speedsters helped the Gators (7-6) avoid their first losing season since 1979 and
pick up some much-needed momentum after losing six of their previous eight games.
"We don't want to be remembered as the team that lost, so it was a big game for us," Howard said. "Not only for the seniors, but the program as a whole. It's a building block for next year."
Ohio State (6-7) dropped four straight to finish below .500 for the first time since 1988, and lost seven games for the first time since 1897.
The Buckeyes can take solace in knowing that Meyer, who officially takes over for interim coach Luke Fickell at Ohio State this week, will make it a priority to improve special teams. Meyer did that in his six seasons in Gainesville, and Rainey and Debose were two of his most prized recruits.
"When you have two good teams play each other, it's usually special teams that will make the difference," Ohio State defensive back Tyler Moeller said. "That's what it was today."
Ohio State fell to 0-10 in bowl games against teams from the Southeastern Conference. Yes, the Buckeyes beat Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl last year. But that victory was vacated as part of NCAA sanctions.
The latest loss had everything to do with Florida's speed.
The Gators dominated the defensive line of scrimmage. They had a season-high six sacks, harassing Braxton Miller on nearly every passing play. Howard and Sharrif Floyd were disruptive all afternoon.
Florida had similar success the last time it played Ohio State. The Gators were dominant on defense in a 41-14 win in the 2007 Bowl Championship Series national title game in Glendale, Ariz. Meyer was coaching Florida that night.
Debose and Rainey proved to be the difference in the much-hyped rematch that centered around Meyer.
Just after Ohio State tied the game at 7 on Miller's 5-yard pass to DeVier Posey in the second quarter, Debose took the kickoff, made one cut to the outside and went untouched for his third career kickoff return for a touchdown. The Buckeyes never got close enough to even swipe at him, let alone make the tackle.
"It meant a lot to me," Debose said. "I just tried to do anything that I can do to help the team. ... There is no feeling like it."
Florida was up 14-10 at halftime and essentially put the game out of reach on the opening possession of the third.
Rainey came off the left end and blocked Ben Buchanan's punt. Seldom-used linebacker Graham Stewart scooped it up at the 14-yard line and scored the first touchdown of his career.
It was Rainey's sixth blocked punt of his career, breaking the school and SEC record.
Rainey also ran for 71 yards on a warm and sunny day in Jacksonville. John Brantley completed 12 of 16 passes for 132 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He had a 17-yard strike to Deonte Thompson in the first.
Ohio State wasn't nearly as effective.
Miller completed 18 of 23 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran 15 times for 20 yards. He completed an 11-yard TD pass to Jordan Hall with 57 seconds remaining. The Buckeyes failed to recover an onside kick, and Florida ran out the clock for its sixth bowl victory in the last seven years, including four in a row.
Players doused Muschamp with ice water in the final seconds, but the coach later made it clear his team still has strides to make to get back to national prominence.
"The realization of this whole thing, if you want to see big pictures, in the last two years at the University of Florida, we're 15-11, that's unacceptable," Muschamp said. "That's what we are. ... We're one game (better than) last year. Sometimes I think you've got to put your realistic glasses on (to see) where you are as a program right at this point.
"It's not where we're going to be very long. I can assure you of that. Moving in the right direction."
Ohio State has building blocks, too. Miller, a freshman, gives Meyer an experienced and improving quarterback for next season even though the Buckeyes won't be bowl eligible.
"This whole season was a learning process," Miller said. "I learned as the season went on. I could have played better. I'm anxious to get going for next year."

Two-Minute Drill: Inside Gator Bowl Postgame
By Brandon Castel

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The postgame bowl setting usually provides some of the best and most unique media opportunities of the year.
It may have been a down year for the Buckeyes, ending with a 24-17 loss to Florida on Monday, but the Gator Bowl postgame did not disappoint.
Here is a look at what Luke Fickell and his players were saying after finishing the season 6-7 with their fourth-straight loss in Jacksonville.

Hurricane Meyer Will Hit Early
Ohio State players have a 7a.m. meeting with Urban Meyer and his new coaching staff in Columbus tomorrow.

OSU TE Jake Stoneburner said “I wouldn’t be late for that one.”
Talked to a few underclassmen who said they really wanted to win this for the seniors, but they're ready for a fresh start.
WR DeVier Posey said it was an emotional postgame locker room. A lot of hugs. Like a family. Everyone got closer this year.
Posey said he thinks this season will be good for younger guys because now they've been somewhere they never want to go back.
Freshman LB Ryan Shazier agreed that he thought this year will make everyone mentally tougher for the future.

Guys Coming Back?
DE Nathan Williams is going to take a medical redshirt and return next season.
Asked if it was a tough decision, he responded, "It was the obvious decision. I wanted to come back."
Williams actually injured the knee in fall camp. Said it was killing him on every play against Akron in the opener.
Williams also said that he expects to be ready for the start of fall camp next season.
TE Jake Stoneburner said he is not 100% he is coming back, but certainly seems to be leaning that way. Bowl ban seemed to bum him out, but Stoneburner said he knows Urban Meyer will have them ready to play for 12 games.
DT Johnathan Hankins said he is excited to have Nathan Williams back next year and expects to have John Simon and the other juniors back as well.

Injury Update
Stoneburner said he injured his left knee in the Michigan game. Said it was 4-6 week recovery and he just wasn't able to go.
Freshman LB Ryan Shazier said he started today's game about 90%, but dropped to about 70% after a spill he took during Ohio State’s fumble recovery.
Hankins played without his knee brace Monday and said that his knee felt good. He is not planning to have surgery.
Hankins said he didn't feel like his conditioning took a hit because of the knee injury and said he welcomes an intense off-season under Meyer because it will make him a better player.
DB Zach Domicone tore his ACL and will have surgery on Jan. 4.

Offensive Updates
Junior TE Reid Fragel said he approached Urban Meyer about moving to offensive tackle next year.
Fragel said he thinks the Buckeyes need offensive tackles and he wants to be like Patriots rookie Nate Solder. Feels OSU in good hands at TE.
Posey said he was frustrated by the missed opportunity when he was wide open in the end zone, but said Braxton will be much better next year.
Miller said he felt like he could never get into a rhythm today. Posey said they had something going and then he fumbled the ball.
Staff Updates

Urban Meyer has retained Kirk Barton as a graduate assistant for next season.
Meyer is also expected to announce the hirings of former Notre Dame assistant coaches Tim Hinton (TEs) and Ed Warriner tomorrow.
Assistants Jim Heacock, Jim Bollman and Dick Tressel all said they would like to continue coaching.

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