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Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Oklahoma-Florida: Ball Protection

The ability of both Florida and Oklahoma to score mountains of points this year has dominated the discussion in the first week leading up to the national championship game.

Both teams do something else pretty well, and Homerism has heard no mention of it. You have about as good of a chance at prying the football loose from either team as you do of snatching the opposing quarterbacks' Heismans.
This year, Oklahoma and Florida rank one and two, respectively, in turnover margin, according to data from cfbstats.com. Both ranked in the top four in turnovers created, and both ranked in the top two in turnovers lost.
Through 13 games, the Sooners have a 1.77 turnover-per-game advantage over their opponents, while the Gators are just a step behind at 1.69. Defensively, the Gators have 33 takeaways on the season to the Sooners' 32. On offense, OU has given it up just nine times all year, compared with 11 turnovers by Tim Tebow and company.
Florida's defense also excels when it comes to making teams pay for coughing up the ball. Five of the Gators' 24 interceptions have been returned for touchdowns.
Games in which Florida and Oklahoma had more turnovers than their opponents were few and far between this year, but it's probably no coincidence that they had negative turnover margin in each team's only loss of the season. Florida was -2 versus Ole Miss, as was Oklahoma versus Texas. On the other hand, both teams parlayed a distinct edge in turnovers forced in their biggest wins of the season against Florida and Texas Tech.
So, even though Florida and Oklahoma may lack the unbending might of defensive units like that of USC, they do specialize in momentum-changing turnovers. On offense, they're able to churn out yards and points in bunches without giving opponents extra possessions.
"Winning the turnover battle" may sound like a cliche, but it could end up determining this title clash.