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Tebow keeps promise to team, fans, God

By Jared Trexler, College Football Analyst

Miami, FL (Sports Network) - It's hard not to be envious of the fourth-best quarterback in the Big 12 conference.

He has the pretty girl. The big muscles. The bronze statue displayed were most young men his age showcase a collection of beer bottles.

Yet, he never flaunts his success or boasts about his enormous talents, but rather deflects praise to his biggest fan at every turn.


The most famous biblical verse, John 3:16, was expressed in eye black on the night he cemented his collegiate legacy. His famous "I promise" speech after Florida's only loss this season on September 27th to Ole Miss concluded with two simple and telling words.

"God Bless."

Tebow has spent time in Croatia, Thailand and the Philippines -- not on vacation or a symbolic photo-op for ESPN, but feeding needy children and living in a leper colony, which starkly strikes a biblical chord.

With all that Tim Tebow has -- the fame, the fast-approaching fortune, the popularity -- it has never gone to his head, but instead straight to his heart in the form of prayer and appreciation.

That spiritual guidance helped make Tebow not just a Heisman finalist (after winning last season) or the catalyst of an offense that averaged over 45 points a game this season, but also the fourth best quarterback in the Big 12 conference.

It wasn't all sentimental prose. In-between the lines, Tebow displayed his characteristic attributes of toughness, tenacity and talent in Florida's 24-14 victory over Oklahoma, giving the Gators a second national title in three seasons.

He shook off two early interceptions -- matching his season total -- to throw a pair of touchdown passes as part of a 231-yard passing night. He also inflicted plenty of pain on the Sooners linebackers and secondary, weaving through the first line of defense and lowering the boom on would-be tacklers to the tune of 109 yards rushing.

He also served as a cheerleader on the sidelines. A motivator in the locker room after a defensive-minded first half ended in a 7-7 draw. An object of affection for the glitz and glamour crowd watching at a local South Beach bar, and an object of awe and inspiration for the Dolphin Stadium-record crowd on hand to witness the spectacle of sport.

He basically did everything except go out on the field and tackle Sooners quarterback Sam Bradford, the golden, pinpoint right arm that edged him out for this season's Heisman Trophy. That job was handled aptly by a Florida defense that intercepted and sacked Bradford twice, causing a wide-eyed look of disbelief on the face of QB and his coach.

After all, this Oklahoma offense couldn't be stopped, according to the experts. Statistical evidence to the tune of 60-plus points in the final five games and a 54-point scoring average backed up the assertion.

And it was thought that the game was in Tebow's hands to keep up. Which of course appeared to be a tough order for the fourth-best quarterback in the Big 12.

Yet, when the lights went on and the nation's top two teams hit the field, Florida's attacking defense stuffed two Oklahoma scoring drives inside the five-yard line during the first half -- one on downs and one on a last-second interception that touched seven or eight body parts, but never the ground.

The Gators defense gave Tebow and the Florida offense enough time to make up for its miscues. Percy Harvin at 90 percent after a high ankle sprain turned out to be 100 percent faster than every defender. He touched the football 14 times (9 rushes, 5 catches) for 174 total yards and a touchdown.

David Nelson caught the game-clinching four-yard touchdown off one of Tebow's famed jump passes, finishing off an 11-play, 76-yard testament of wills.

"If I was trying to run or run some people over to try to get the crowd into it and get the momentum, then that's what I was going to try to do," said Tebow. "We had some open holes and made a few plays."

The fourth-best quarterback in the Big 12 didn't let the drive end until Nelson's paws corralled a perfect throw in the middle of the end zone.

Game, set, match Gators. Gainesville exhaled in exhilaration and Tebow gleefully pointed to the heavens.

Knowing everything he has, documenting all that he has accomplished and witnessing his skill and will in pushing Florida over the finish line once again, it is hard not to be envious of Tim Tebow.

Especially if you are Oklahoma sophomore cornerback Dominique Franks, who seemed to think the Big 12 was full of Montanas and Elways when he spewed bulletin board material last Sunday about the country's best three quarterbacks coming from the Big 12.

What does that make Tebow?

A champion.

01/09 01:36:02 ET