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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 23, 2009

CFB: Top 25 Countdown: No. 1 and defending champion Florida

By Randall Perry
McClatchy Newspapers

No. 1 Florida

Coach: Urban Meyer
Record: 44-8 at Florida, four years; 83-17 in eight years overall
Last season: 13-1, 7-1 Southeastern
Bowl game: Beat Oklahoma 24-14 in BCS Championship Game

Overview: Florida has won two of the past three BCS titles and is the consensus favorite to do it again. In the past five years, including his last at Utah when the Utes went 12-0, coach Urban Meyer has lost only nine games.
Key returnees: QB Tim Tebow, Sr.; OT Carl Johnson, Jr.; DE Carlos Dunlap, Jr.; LB Brandon Spikes, Sr.; CB Joe Haden, Jr.; FS Major Wright, Jr.
Strengths: It all starts with quarterback Tim Tebow. After winning the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore, Tebow came back with another great year. He threw for 2,746 yards and 30 touchdowns and was only intercepted four times last season. He also rushed for 673 yards. High-powered Oklahoma discovered in the BCS title game what everyone in the SEC already knew about Florida: It has a great defense. The Gators intercepted 26 passes last season, tied for first in the country, with 14 coming against Top 25 teams. Florida was fourth in the country in scoring defense and ninth in total defense. Brandon James is one of the most dangerous kickoff- and punt-return players.
Weaknesses: Florida will have to replace the production of receiver Percy Harvin, who left early for the NFL. Harvin had 1,303 yards and 17 touchdowns receiving and rushing combined. Jeff Demps, Brandon James and Chris Rainey have the speed to take his place, but will they?
Prediction: Florida has what should be a tough road game against LSU on Oct. 10. Otherwise, the Gators should have smooth sailing to the SEC Championship Game, where they will most likely face Alabama, Ole Miss or LSU. Look for the Gators to go undefeated and beat whomever they play in the BCS title game. The most likely opponents will be Oklahoma, Texas or Ohio State.