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January 18, 2009
Power Rankings: Strong effort lifts Gators
• Rivals.com Power Rankings by Position: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ST
• Coaches Power Rankings: Head Coach | Off. Coordinator | Def. Coordinator
Somebody finally found a way to slow down the highest-scoring offense in NCAA history.
Florida's 24-14 victory over Oklahoma in the BCS Championship Game marked the first time all season that the Sooners scored fewer than 35 points in a game. That effort helped make Florida's Charlie Strong the No. 1 defensive coordinator in the final edition of the Rivals.com College Football Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top players and coaches at each position.
"I'm going to tell you again that that's one of the finest coaches in America. … And I'm going to say something else. [He's] a great husband and a great father and a great person, as good a guy as I've ever been around," Florida coach Urban Meyer said of Strong after the Gators had wrapped up their second national title in three years.
Florida's defense picked off Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford twice and prevented Oklahoma from scoring on two trips inside the Gators' 10 with the score tied in the second quarter.
The Gators stuffed Oklahoma running back Chris Brown on third- and fourth-and-goal from the 1 midway through the second quarter. Later, Major Wright picked off Bradford on first-and-goal from the 6 with three seconds left in the first half.
Florida's performance helped Strong move ahead of Nick Holt, who helped USC win the Rose Bowl 38-24 over Penn State in his final game with the Trojans before taking over as Washington's defensive coordinator.
Strong's move wasn't the only change atop the power rankings.
Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher moved to the No. 1 position in the offensive line rankings after helping the Rebels gain 515 yards of total offense in a 47-34 Cotton Bowl victory over Texas Tech. Oher displaced Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith, who was suspended from the Crimson Tide's 31-17 Sugar Bowl loss to Utah.
Florida State kicker/punter Graham Gano moved ahead of Utah kicker/punter Louie Sakoda to regain his position as the No. 1 special-teams performer. Gano was named the most valuable player of the Champs Sports Bowl after three of his punts were downed inside Wisconsin's 5 during Florida State's 42-13 triumph over the Badgers.
Players remaining atop their respective positions were Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, Iowa running back Shonn Greene, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree, Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham, Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo, Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes and Tennessee strong safety Eric Berry.
Meyer maintained his position as the No. 1 coach, while Oklahoma's Kevin Wilson remained the top offensive coordinator.
Although this represents the final power rankings for the 2008 season, we will return with the first edition of the 2009 rankings sometime during the spring.
The rating of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how they fared the previous week, but the power rankings measure overall career performances as well as their most recent results. By the end of the season, our power rankings should provide an accurate indicator of which players and coaches were the best at their respective positions.
Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.