Florida's Tebow Unfazed By Heisman Jinx Heading Into Capital One Bowl

Tebow and the ninth-ranked Gators are downplaying the supposed jinx

Dec. 30, 2007

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Florida quarterback Tim Tebow has heard all about the "Heisman jinx." He even saw it firsthand last January, when Ohio State's Troy Smith struggled against the Gators in the national championship game.

Nonetheless, Tebow and the ninth-ranked Gators are downplaying the supposed jinx - Heisman-winning quarterbacks are 5-7 in bowl games since 1980 - heading into Tuesday's Capital One Bowl against Michigan.

"I've never been very superstitious, so I'm not going to start now," he said.

Tebow, though, was concerned enough that he talked to 1996 Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel about it shortly after winning college football's most prestigious award three weeks ago.

Wuerffel's advice?

"Plain and simple, you don't change," Tebow said. "You are the same person. You go about everything the exact same. You work as hard as you can. You do everything you did before you won it. Maybe other people's perception is different about you, but your perception about you and how you do things isn't different at all."

Tebow was a one-of-a-kind quarterback this season, becoming the first player in major college history with at least 20 touchdowns rushing and at least 20 passing in the same season. The sophomore also became the first underclassman to win the Heisman.

So why would anyone believe he would stumble in the bowl game like all those other Heisman-winning quarterbacks?

"I don't know what the problem was with all them other quarterbacks, but I know Tim works harder than ever and he's going to do whatever he can to help this team win," receiver Andre Caldwell said. "I don't see Michigan having a chance at stopping him and making him have a bad game."

History backs up Caldwell's point.

The Wolverines haven't had much success against mobile quarterbacks.

The Buckeyes' Smith gave Michigan all sorts of trouble. He threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 145 yards and a score in 2004. He threw for 300 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score the following year.


 

 

Last season, Smith threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns against the Wolverines.

Vince Young of Texas posed even more problems for Big Blue in the 2005 Rose Bowl. Young ran for 192 yards, threw for 180 and accounted for five touchdowns.

Yes, that's the past.

So what about the present? The Wolverines struggled against Appalachian State's Armanti Edwards in the season opener and couldn't contain Oregon's Dennis Dixon the following week.

Edwards had 227 yards passing and three TDs and ran for 62 yards and a score. Dixon threw for 292 yards and three TDs and ran for 76 yards and a score.

"We've heard it all year: we have trouble with the spread," Michigan cornerback Morgan Trent said. "After the first two games, we heard that we can't do this if they've got a mobile quarterback. We've got a lot of motivation to go out and show that we can do that."

Stopping Tebow, though, won't be easy.

"He's big, strong, he can throw the ball well," safety Jamar Adams said. "He is the catalyst of that offense; as he goes, they go. He's the heart and soul of that team, so if you can tackle him in the open field and keep him from hitting his first or second reads, you can slow him down."

And maybe keep him from joining Doug Flutie (Boston College, 1984), Charlie Ward (Florida State, 1993), Wuerffel, Carson Palmer (USC, 2002) and Matt Leinart (USC, 2004) as Heisman-winning quarterbacks who had success in bowl games.

Vinny Testaverde (Miami, 1986), Ty Detmer (BYU, 1990), Gino Torretta (Miami, 1992), Chris Weinke (Florida State, 2000), Eric Crouch (Nebraska, 2001), Jason White (Oklahoma, 2003) and Smith helped foster the Heisman jinx.

"I think it's real," Gators coach Urban Meyer said. "Human nature takes over. They won the award so why grind like everybody else. Maybe the lucky thing is Tim's only a sophomore. A senior that wins the Heisman, I worry about that."

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