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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Two Bucs agree on one thing: My team will win
Not surprisingly, each player thinks his respective team is going to win the national title again. Here's each player's rationale.
By STEPHEN F. HOLDER
Published January 8, 2007
Buccaneers Ike Hilliard Florida and Will Allen (Ohio State) won national championships while playing for the participants of tonight's BCS title game. Hilliard caught seven passes for 150 yards in the Gators' 52-20 blowout of FSU in the 1997 Sugar Bowl. Allen was a key member of the Buckeyes defense that helped stun Miami, stopping its 34-game win streak in the 2002 title game in the Fiesta Bowl (his fourth-quarter hit injured the knee of Willis McGahee, knocking the star running back out of the game). Not surprisingly, each player thinks his respective team is going to win the national title again. Here's each player's rationale.
Free safety Allen on Ohio State:
"I think the fact that our coach (Jim Tressell) has a little more experience in big games is huge. And I also think we're not going to make as many mistakes as (Florida). They're a younger team and they've been mistake-prone all year. Whereas we've taken advantage of our opportunities and made minimal mistakes. I just think it's going to come down to those things. That and who comes away with the most takeaways."
On the OSU offense and how it matches up with a tough UF defense, Allen says, "I think we have an edge because of our leadership at quarterback and the way the team rallies around (Troy Smith). Whenever you have a quarterback who is a leader like Troy, it makes everybody play even harder because he's going to push them."
Wide receiver Hilliard on Florida:
"It starts with our defense. I don't think we've given up a 100-yard rusher all year (He's right.). And we've lost people to injury all through the season and they've still produced. Say what you want about the offense. As long as I have those front-seven guys, and as long as we have Reggie Nelson, you're not going to see us playing man-to-man with people running through us the way Texas did (against OSU). That's ridiculous. You're going to see No. 7 (leading receiver Ted Ginn) against No. 1 (Nelson) all day. For him to beat us, they have to feed him. He's going to have to catch 12, 13 balls."
But what about Smith? You know, the guy who won the Heisman. "They're the best team in the country. You have to give them their due. But I look at it like this: I think we have the front seven to contain him. Granted Tressel is a great coach and I'm sure he's going to have a great scheme. I just think defensively we've got enough talent to get it done. One guy is not going to beat us."