OSU will play UF in BCS title game

Florida beat Michigan on Sunday in the only game that mattered.

The Gators, who lobbied hard for this victory, were picked to play No. 1 Ohio State for college football’s national championship, ending any chance for the Wolverines to get the rematch they so desired and thought they deserved.

The close selection was sure to set off renewed calls to scrap the Bowl Championship Series and go to a playoff.

Southern California was a step away from the title game if only it had beaten UCLA on Saturday. Instead, the second-ranked Trojans were upset 13-9, dropping in the standings and clearing the way for Florida (12-1) or Michigan (11-1).

The Gators leapfrogged idle Michigan by winning the Southeastern Conference championship game, 38-28, over Arkansas.

“It’s well deserved, and I’m proud of it,” said Florida coach Urban Meyer on the Gators’ selection.

The championship game is Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz.

Michigan’s consolation prize is a Rose Bowl bid to play USC (10-2), a classic Big Ten vs. Pac-10 matchup of teams left to wonder what could have been.

In other bowls:

“Big 12 champion Oklahoma will meet unbeaten Boise State in the Fiesta on Jan. 1.

“Big East champion Louisville will play ACC champion Wake Forest in the Orange on Jan. 2.

“LSU will take Florida’s spot in the Sugar and play Notre Dame on Jan. 3.

For the first time in the BCS’s eight-year history, the championship matchup was a mystery heading into selection Sunday.

After the numbers were crunched, the margin between Florida and Michigan couldn’t have been much closer. The Gators had a BCS average of .944. The Wolverines were at .934. They were tied in the computer rating, and Florida had a 38-point lead in the Harris poll and a 26-point advantage in the coaches’ poll.

When the Wolverines ended their regular season with a 42-39 loss to the Buckeyes two weeks ago, they talked about getting another swing at their Big Ten rivals.

While Michigan was left to wait and hope, the other contenders still had games to play.

Florida made its final case by beating Arkansas, but second-year coach Meyer became very vocal about getting a chance to play Ohio State, especially when it appeared the Gators would be left out.

Losing only once in what’s regarded as the nation’s toughest conference and not playing for a national championship, especially if Michigan got a mulligan, was more than Meyer could take.

He called for a playoff and suggested the BCS should be imploded if the SEC champ again was left out of the championship game _ the way undefeated Auburn was in 2004.

“It’s an imperfect system,” said Meyer of the BCS. “If you want a true national championship, the only way to do it is on the field.”

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, however, is not in favor of a playoff.

“With a 12 game season, it would be next to impossible to have a 16-team playoff,” he said Sunday. “We’ll continually improve the system. As you look at it over the past few years, it has gotten better and better.”

It’s always something with the BCS. The system was created to make sure No. 1 and No. 2 played in the final game of the season, but rarely has there been a title game everybody agreed upon.