MIAMI | Tim Tebow gave Florida the jolt it needed, and the Gators toughed out a second BCS title in three years.
Their 24-14 win over No. 2 Oklahoma in a choppy, sloppy affair Thursday night made them a national champion. But it did little to quiet fans of Southern California, Utah and Texas, all of whom already claimed they deserved the top spot.
The high-scoring shootout between Heisman Trophy winners never materialized. Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford couldn’t score from in close, and Tebow threw two interceptions, as many as he had all season.
The first half was a surprising effort from a pair of defenses that had taken a back seat to the high-powered offenses in most of the pregame hype.
Oklahoma contained Tebow and forced him into a pair of first-half interceptions, as many as he had thrown all season. Oklahoma safety Nic Harris snuffed Florida’s first possession by baiting Tebow into an ill-advised, late throw toward Percy Harvin that the All-American snagged in front of Harvin and returned to the Oklahoma 46-yard line.
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recorded the other pick when Tebow failed to see him backing into coverage on a Oklahoma stunt.
Unfortunately for the underdog Sooners, they couldn’t turn either Tebow miscue into points in a first half defined by missed opportunities. The second interception came midway through the second quarter with the score tied at 7-7 and gave Oklahoma possession at the Florida 26-yard line.
The Sooners quickly pounded their way inside the 5-yard line on three consecutive runs by tailback Chris Brown. But Florida stuffed Brown at the 1 on third-and-goal, and then Florida defensive tackle Torrey Davis dropped him in the backfield when Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops elected to go for it on fourth down.
After a Florida punt, Oklahoma raced down the field behind Heisman winner Bradford, who connected on eight of 10 passes while pushing the Sooners to a first-and-goal opportunity at the Florida 6 with just 10 seconds left in the half. With one timeout remaining, the Sooners decided take a shot at the end zone. But Florida deflected Bradford’s slant pass at the goal line, the ball bounced off four Florida defensive backs and the Oklahoma receiver, and Florida’s Major Wright corralled the ball at the 3-yard line to end the half.
The first half wasn’t a complete loss for Bradford and Tebow, however. The Gators struck first when Tebow rolled to his right and threw back across his body to Louis Murphy for a 20-yard touchdown with 14:02 remaining in the second.
Bradford and Oklahoma answered immediately with a six-play, 65-yard scoring drive in 2:13. The sophomore capped the march with a 6-yard touchdown toss to All-American tight end Jermaine Gresham to tie the score.
• The Associated Press contributed to this article.