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Gators prepare to tackle Ohio State
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Southeastern Conference champions Florida Gators, with an overall record of 12-1 and a 7-1 league mark, travel to Glendale, Ariz., for a meeting with top-ranked Big Ten champion Ohio State (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten) in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 8, 2007, at 8 p.m.

The game will be broadcast on Fox. The Fiesta Bowl will host the title tilt in the new state-of-the-art University of Phoenix Stadium.

According to information at www.g­atorz­one.c­om, the Bowl Championship Series is a five-game arrangement for postseason college football that is designed to match the two top-rated teams in a national championship game.

The Fiesta Bowl will host the BCS National Championship Game. It will be the second game of the double-hosting model. This will not be the first time the Fiesta Bowl has hosted the inaugural game in a new system. It also hosted the first Bowl Alliance championship game in 1996 and the first BCS unified championship in 1999.

Florida has been celebrating 100 years of Gator football throughout the season, and 2006 is also the 10th anniversary of the school’s first football national title. UF defeated Florida State, 52-20, in the Sugar Bowl to secure the 1996 championship, according to the Web site.

Florida enters the game with a 15-18 all-time record in bowls, and is 5-3 against Big 10 members it has faced in those contests (Illinois, 1-0; Iowa, 2-1; Michigan, 0-1; Michigan State, 0-1; Penn State, 2-0).

Gator 2006 season highlights from the Web site

- The 38-28 victory over No. 8 Arkansas at the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 2 yielded the Gators’ first league title since 2000 and seventh in school history. The 38 points matched the second-most scored in the SEC title game, shy of the 45 the Orange and Blue scored against Alabama in 1996.

- The Gators improved to 6-2 in the SEC Championship Game, having collected wins in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000 and 2006. UF won the 1991 SEC crown and the league’s title game began in 1992.

- The 12 teams UF defeated finished the season with 11 combined wins against opponents which were ranked in the AP Top-25 poll at the time the game was played.

- The Gators went 4-1 against ranked opponents, beating then-No. 13 Tennessee, No. 9 LSU, No. 25 Georgia and No. 8 Arkansas and losing at No. 11 Auburn.

- Florida finished the regular season with an 11-1 record to become only the second team in school history (1995) to win 11 games prior to a conference title or bowl game.

- Florida was the first team in the nation to clinch a spot in a conference championship game among teams in conferences that have one. With a win at Vanderbilt on Nov. 4 and a victory by LSU at Tennessee later that day, Florida clinched a spot in the SEC Championship game.

- On Nov. 11, Florida defeated South Carolina to finish undefeated in the SEC East for the ninth time in school history.

- Florida’s 21-4 overall record over the last two years is tied for the best among all SEC teams (LSU, 21-4). Since 2005, UF has posted a 12-4 regular-season record in the SEC, the third-best in the league and tops in the SEC’s Eastern Division.

- Florida closed its home schedule on Saturday, Nov. 18, with a 62-0 romp over Western Carolina to finish undefeated in “The Swamp” for the second-straight season. UF had not gone undefeated in back-to-back seasons in Gainesville since 1997-98. There are only three other teams in the country that finished the 2005 and 2006 seasons perfect at home (Boise State, Louisville and USC). Currently, the Gators own a 15-game winning streak in The Swamp, which is the third longest run nationally.

- With the win at Florida State on Nov. 25, UF has now taken seven-straight games against Tennessee, Georgia and FSU. It is the longest streak over those three teams in school history, topping the five-game skein established in the 1995-96 seasons. Urban Meyer is the only coach in school history to begin his career with six-straight wins over the trio. The conquest of FSU marked the first time that UF had ever defeated the Vols, ‘Dogs and Seminoles in back-to-back seasons.

- Florida has been ranked in the AP, Coaches’ and BCS polls each week since Urban Meyer’s arrival in Gainesville, which is a streak of 31-straight AP and Coaches’ polls. The Gators’ current ranking of second in the BCS is the highest for an Urban Meyer-coached team and equals the highest for UF, a position it last occupied on Nov. 24, 2001.

- Ohio State will be the sixth team with a unit ranked inside the Top 25 in total defense that the Gators have played this season. Including Florida, there have been six teams to advance to the BCS National Championship game with one loss. The chart below shows how many teams they played with top-25 defenses during those seasons:
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