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    Saturday, November 29, 2008

    Head To Head Matchup: Quarterbacks

    Sophomore versus Junior. Heisman Trophy winner versus first year starter. And the list goes on. On paper, looking at the two quarterbacks in Saturday's game, it isn't even close. However to use a trite cliche, that's why they play the game.

    FSU fans are familiar with Tim Tebow and unfortunately it has been from a losing perspective. Over the past three seasons, Tebow has been a part of teams that have gone 45-8 overall. He is 19-5 as the starting QB at Florida.

    On the season, Tebow has thrown for 2,114 yards, 22 TDs and has only two interceptions. Tebow has not thrown an interception in 11 of the last 13 games.

    He is one of three players nationally to have thrown two or less interceptions this season (min. 225 att.). His completion percentage is 65.8% and his last interception thrown was against Kentucky on October 25. He also has rushed for 427 yards and 11 touchdowns this year.

    No team of late has been able to stop a Florida offense that is averaging 444.6 yards per game, which ranks 17th nationally. The Gators’ passing game hasn’t been outstanding this season but they are averaging 229.8 yards per game on the ground.

    In scoring offense, the Gators are ranked #3 in the nation averaging 46.5 points a game and scoring 69 TDs. The offensive line for the Gators has allowed 14 sacks which places them #25 in the nation in sacks allowed.

    Tebow has plenty of receivers to throw to and two of them, Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy, are in the top 20 in the SEC in reception yards. Tebow and the Gators have been successful at converting on third down and rank #12 in the nation at 48.74%.

    In the red zone, Tebow and company have converted for scores at 92.16% which puts them #9 in the nation.When they get inside the red zone, the bulk of their scores have been for TDs. They have 39 TDs out of of the 47 scores within the red zone.

    Defensive matchup: So which Nole defense will Tebow and his offense be facing Saturday afternoon? Hopefully it will be the one that dominated Maryland. The Nole defense is ranked #7 in the nation in total defense allowing 272.6 yards a game.

    In passing defense, the Noles are ranked #4 nationally allowing almost 163.1 yards a game, 11 TDs through the air, and 9 interceptions. The Nole secondary will need to be playing lights out against Florida's speedy receivers and players like Rolle and Carter will have to have their best games of the year.

    The Noles are ranked #1 nationally in allowing the least number of third downs by opponents allowing only 24.14%.

    In red zone defense, the Noles are ranked #12 in the nation with a 34.29% conversion rate. Almost half of the scores against the Noles in the red zone have been field goals. In scoring defense, the Noles are ranked #19 in the nation allowing 18.5 points a game.

    Hopefully Tebow will get to know defensive end Everette Brown well on Saturday. FSU is ranked #4 nationally in sacks with 35 and Brown is #2 in the nation in sacks with 12.5 sacks on the year. Eight of Brown's sacks have been at home.

    The Noles are ranked #2 in the nation in tackles for a loss with 95 on the season. Brown is also ranked #2 in the nation in tackles for a loss with 20.5 tackles for a loss.

    The linebacker corps is anchored by Derek Nicholson who ranks #5 in the ACC in tackles for a loss and has 70 tackles on the season and leads the team in that category.

    For the Noles, QB Christian Ponder will be facing on the season the highest ranked team in the Gators. For the season, Ponder has thrown for 1,747 yards, 12 TDs, and 11interceptions.

    For the season, he is averaging almost 159 yards a game and has completed 56.4% of his passes. Ponder has also rushed for 390 yards and 4 TDs.

    The pass offense for the Noles is ranked #85 nationally and in scoring offense, the Noles are ranked #22 and are averaging 34.3 points a game.

    On third down conversions, the Noles are ranked #18 in the nation converting 47.14% of third downs. In red zone conversions, they are ranked #19 nationally converting 88.89% of the time when they are inside the twenty.

    The Nole offensive line will have to play at their best in order to allow Ponder time to throw and establish a running game. The Noles are doing a decent job in sacks allowed and are currently ranked #37 in the nation in sacks allowed with 16 on the season. In tackles for a loss allowed, the Noles are ranked lower at #65 in the nation.

    Defensive matchup: Ponder and the offense will be facing a Gator defense that is ranked #9 in the nation in total defense allowing 278.7 yards a game. In pass defense they are ranked #20 nationally allowing 175.9 yards a game and 10 TDs through the air.

    Ponder will have to be very careful as the Gators are ranked #3 in the nation in interceptions with 20 picks and five returned for a TD. The interception leader for Florida is defensive back Ahmad Black who has 6 picks for the season. He also is tied for second on the team with 5 pass breakups. Black has returned two for touchdowns this year.

    In addition to those players in the secondary, Gator linebacker Brandon Spikes has three interceptions this season against top-25 teams, which is tied for second among all players nationally and is the most by any linebacker in the country.

    The Gator defense is ranked #34 in the nation in sacks with 26. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap leads Florida in sacks with 7. He also leads the Gators in tackles with a loss with 9 and linebacker Brandon Spikes is one behind with 8. Spikes also leads the team in tackles with 74.

    On third down conversions, Florida is ranked #18 nationally and is allowing their opponents 32.03% on third downs and in red zone conversions, the Gators are ranked first nationally allowing opponents to score only 62.96 % of the time when inside the twenty.

    Quick stat: Tim Tebow has thrown two or more TDs in 9 games this season. Christian Ponder has thrown two or more TDs in only two games against Western Carolina and Chattanooga.

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