Ex-BG coach Meyer has ties to Ohio and OSU

COLUMBUS, Ohio – More than two weeks after its biggest game of the season, top-ranked Ohio State finally found out last night that it will face Florida in the national championship game.

The final Bowl Championship Series rankings had the Gators (12-1) sidestepping idle Michigan to climb into the No. 2 spot behind the Buckeyes.

The Buckeyes (12-0) will be chasing their second national title in the last five years when they play Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz. Ohio State and Florida have never met before on a football field.

But Gators coach Urban Meyer has strong ties to Ohio and the Ohio State program.

Meyer was a graduate assistant at Ohio State in 1986 [tight ends] and 1987 [wide receivers] under Buckeyes head coach Earle Bruce. He also was the head coach at Bowling Green in 2001-02, posting records of 8-3 and 9-3 before taking the head coaching job at Utah. Meyer is in his second year at Florida.

A native of Ashtabula, the 42-year-old Meyer picked up a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Cincinnati in 1986 and got his master’s degree in sports administration from Ohio State in 1988.

Ohio State has been No. 1 throughout the season in the BCS rankings. Southern California went into the final weekend at No. 2, followed by Michigan and Florida. The Trojans suffered a stunning 13-9 upset at the hands of rival UCLA while Florida was taking advantage of Arkansas’ mistakes to pull out a wild 38-28 victory in the Southeastern Conference championship game in Atlanta.

The Buckeyes have a 50-day wait from their last regular-season game, a memorable 42-39 victory at home against No. 2-ranked Michigan, until they finally face off with the Gators in the desert for the national title.

Ohio State had not won a national championship since 1968 when it went 14-0 during the 2002 season and upended top-ranked Miami 31-24 in two overtimes in the Fiesta Bowl. This year’s team has 17 fifth-year seniors or graduate students who were around for that title run.

The Buckeyes have been ranked No. 1 from preseason through the regular season in The Associated Press poll. They will try to become only the third team ever ranked No. 1 before the season starts to finish at No. 1, following Florida State in 1999 and Southern California in 2004.

Other than the close call against Michigan and a 17-10 win at Illinois late in the season, no other team came within 17 points of the Buckeyes during the 2006 campaign.

Ohio State has won its last 19 games, matching the second-longest winning streak in school history. Only a 22-game streak from 1967-69 is longer.

Quarterback Troy Smith is considered a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. He was voted the team’s MVP yesterday at the annual team banquet.