MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Step aside, Ohio State. You're no longer the college football team nobody wants at their party. The Oklahoma Sooners now are saddled with that dubious distinction, courtesy of the Florida Gators, who beat OU 24-14 Thursday night in a fair and square national-championship game at Dolphin Stadium. The Sooners' bowl slump? Alive and well; five straight defeats in BCS games, three in crystal-trophy games. The controversy with Texas? Resurrected. Maybe the Longhorns would have given the Gators a better game. Though OU played tough, it wilted in the end, just as it did that day in Dallas, when the Longhorns won the fourth quarter. And the Sooners and their fans are stuck with a long winter, spring and summer — and heck, maybe the fall too and who knows how many autumns to come — of being the Atlanta Braves, a franchise that won one World Series and can't seem to win another. “We didn't end up finishing like we talked about all week,” said OU defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who played magnificently. “We said that we had to finish, and we just didn't finish.” This was a 14-14 game with 12 minutes left. In those final 12 minutes, OU had one first down, 21 total yards and zero points. The Gators had eight first downs, 183 yards and 10 points. “It came down to who can win it in the fourth,” said Sooner linebacker Mike Balogun, who was OU's fourth option this year in the middle but actually played pretty well against Florida. “They made more plays than us and that's basically what it boils down to.” Maybe Texas would have better represented the Big 12, though probably not, because this bowl season, capped by Florida's second-half surge in its downstate paradise, did nothing if not expose the Big 12 as a so-so league in 2008, despite its bevy of outrageous scoring and star quarterbacks. The quarterback star Thursday night was Florida's Tim Tebow, not Slingin' Sammy Bradford. Tebow's arm wasn't all that much, which is why Bradford will make, by far, the better pro. But on the college gridiron, Tebow's unique blend of running prowess and grit is a tough out. Play after play, Tebow carried the Gators. Dump passes after scrambles. Quarterback draws. Turn-it-up-inside options. Give Tebow credit. He clearly won this duel of Heisman Trophy winners. Bradford played OK but nothing special, if for no other reason than that glaring 14 points on the scoreboard. OU was mathematically eliminated early from extending its stunning five-game streak of at least 60 points. Bradford's poor decision in the final 10 seconds of the first half let the Gators get to halftime tied 7-7 and set them up for second-half momentum. Bradford threw to Manny Johnson on a slant from the 6-yard line. Not good. Even if Johnson had caught the ball, he might not have scored, particularly the way the Florida defensive backs bird-dogged OU receivers, and time would have run out, since the Sooners had burned all their clock stoppages. The bounding ball hit Johnson and three Gators before settling into Major Wright's arms with three seconds left in the half. Bad decisions didn't solely belong to Bradford. The Sooners messed up an earlier red-zone possession. On third-and-goal from the Florida 1-yard line, big-time tailback Chris Brown failed to score, so the Sooners tried again on a stretch play, which is not quick-hitting. Better hit quick against the Gators; Brown was popped by Torrey Davis for a 2-yard loss. More bad decisions came in the third quarter, when OU faced third-and-1 from the Florida 28-yard line. The Sooners tried the same stretch play, with the same result. Four-yard loss. Then came a worse decision. Bob Stoops ordered a 49-yard field goal attempt on fourth-and-5. Jimmy Stevens, who has been inconsistent this season and has a long of 42 yards, drilled the kick into the Gator line. And so it was simple why Florida won this game. It had four decent scoring chances, not counting a milk-the-clock possession to end the game. The Gators scored on all four. The Sooners had five decent scoring chances. They scored on two. Better score when you get a chance in the Big Bowl. Despite the fourth-quarter stumbles, OU's defense played solid. This was an offensive defeat. Please, no more talk of greatest-offense ever. Sure, it was a difficult environment. Dolphin Stadium was probably 2-to-1, Gator fans over OU fans, and the Floridians at times seemed to rival LSU's for obnoxiousness. But they didn't turn Dolphin Stadium into Florida Field South. “I didn't notice that at all,” Stoops said. “I don't think that was a big factor.” The Sooners just got outplayed, pure and simple. They had a chance and didn't strike. They're now batting .250 in national championship games this decade, falling below Ohio State's .333, and who knows how long it will be before the Sooners return? Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080. Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.