The Sweep

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Oklahoma has lost four straight BCS bowls, including last
year's Fiesta Bowl to West Virginia.
Kevin Reece/Icon SMI

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Under the blistering-hot sun at Dolphin Stadium on Monday (Bob Stoops' white dress shirt was soaked within 10 minutes), the entire rosters and coaching staffs for both Oklahoma and Florida participated in Media Day for Thursday's BCS National Championship Game.
 
Over the course of two hours, I'm pretty sure I heard the word "turnover" uttered 2,337 times.
 
Turnovers are not exactly the sexiest topic to talk about, but there's no question they play a huge role in the outcome of many football games. The main reason the topic keeps coming up here is that the Sooners and Gators happen to rank No. 1 and No. 2 nationally in turnover margin.
 
"It's not a coincidence," said Oklahoma center Jon Cooper. "[Offensive coordinator Kevin] Wilson told us before the season that if we'd be No. 1 in turnover ratio, we'd be in this game."
 
Fair enough -- but something's got to give Thursday night. Invariably, someone's going to cough it up a couple of times, and someone else is not.
 
That's certainly been the Sooners' experience in their recent BCS appearances. Oklahoma has turned it over a combined 12 times in their four straight BCS bowl defeats while gaining just six. Stoops said last summer that his staff would reevaluate various aspects of its previous bowl preparations in an attempt to end the drought, but in the end that only amounted to "changing your schedule a bit here and there. But changing your schedule doesn't make you take care of the football."
 
Pretty much every coach talks about the importance of avoiding turnovers. What I've never understood is: How exactly do you do that? You can spend all the practice time in the world doing hands drills, making sure the quarterback recognizes blitzes, etc., but at the end of the day, all it takes is one wrong turn by a tailback or one tipped pass from a quarterback or some other fluky event to change the entire course of the game.
 
In addition, couldn't it simply be a case of bad nerves? Oklahoma has never been a turnover-prone team, but there's something about the bright lights and the big stage of these BCS games that seem to bring out their inner-klutziness. Could it be more than a coincidence?
 
"It could be," said Stoops. "It could be that the team you're playing is awfully good, gets pressure where you're not used to getting it. In the end, you've got to execute and take care of the ball."
 
The Sooners have done a pretty darn good job of it all season. Heisman winner Sam Bradford has thrown just six interceptions out of 442 pass attempts, and the Sooners have lost just three fumbles all season. They turn the ball over .69 times per game.
 
If they suddenly put up another three-turnover BCS night against the Gators, someone really needs to launch an investigation.
 
A few other Media Day nuggets (with more to come from Andy Staples):
 
• You would think Stoops coached at Florida just a year or two ago based on the amount of questions he received Monday about his Gainesville experience. Folks: It was 10 years ago. He was there for three seasons. He's since won 100-plus games in Norman. Let's move on.
 
• Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen has been juggling two hats the past few weeks, having accepted the head-coaching job at Mississippi State on Dec. 8, but while he's hear in Ft. Lauderdale, it sure seems like his mind is in Starkville.
 
On Monday, Mullen showed off his dual phones -- one in each pocket. When asked which calls he takes first, he said without hesitation "Mississippi State." He didn't sound too sentimental, either, about calling his last game for the Gators, focusing instead on how excited he is for his first team meeting with the Bulldogs on Friday morning.
 
If Florida loses this game (specifically, by struggling on offense), expect Mullen to get much the same send-off Mark Richt did following his last game at Florida State (a 13-2 loss to Oklahoma).
 
• As Oklahoma's designated scout-team quarterback, 6-foot-2, 207-pound freshman John Nimmo has had the unenviable task this season of impersonating Colt McCoy, Graham Harrell, Chase Daniel and now, Tim Tebow.
 
"He's mocked Tebow as well as you can mock a player at quarterback like that," said linebacker Travis Lewis. By "mock," he presumably means "simulate" -- not "mock," as in Dominique Franks style.
 
• Finally, speaking of "mocking," Tebow says that his now-much chronicled comment to CBS' Verne Lundquist about how much he'd "like to throw against some of those defenses in the Big 12" was misconstrued. "I didn't say it like that," the Florida quarterback said Monday. "I dream of playing teams like Texas, Oklahoma, but also the Penn States, USC. So when I was talking about it, I was talking about it in a way like that, not like we're superior to them."
 
What do you think, people? Are you buying it?

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