Alabama, Florida on a collision course
October, 11, 2009
By ESPN.com staff | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
BATON ROUGE, La. -- You can see it from a mile away.
We’re not even to the midway point for some teams in the SEC, but you can see it coming.
Alabama and Florida are on a collision course to meet again in the SEC Championship Game.
And after the most anticipated Saturday of the season in the SEC, it’s hard to discern at this point who has the better team.
They both made convincing arguments.
Florida, playing with a Tim Tebow who wasn’t quite Tim Tebow, ruined what has become a national holiday in these parts, Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. The No. 1-ranked Gators rolled to a 13-3 victory over the No. 4-ranked Tigers to stay unbeaten and now have their toughest road game of the season out of the way.
|Marvin Gentry-US Presswire|
|Nick Saban and Alabama are on course for another showdown with Florida.|
Do they stay No. 1? Does it really matter?
Florida senior linebacker Ryan Stamper doesn’t feel the need to lobby, but he doesn’t think there’s a better overall team out there.
“With our offense, defense and special teams clicking as one, I think we deserve that No. 1 spot right now,” Stamper said.
The Gators (5-0, 3-0) have won 15 in a row dating back to last season, the nation’s longest winning streak. And while two of their three SEC wins this season were still close in the second half -- unlike their blitzkrieg through the SEC in October and November a year ago -- nobody seems too concerned about style points.
“We don’t even talk about (being No. 1), really,” Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez said. “We just go out there every game like we’re the worst team in the country and come out and fight.
“We try to grind every game. Every game is the same to us, come out with a victory.”
Stamper admitted that he tuned in to part of Alabama’s 22-3 bludgeoning of Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon while hanging out at the team hotel.
“The SEC championship will get here when it gets here,” Stamper said. “We’ve got to play every week.”
Perhaps so, but the rest of us can start anticipating a rematch now. After all, the game last season in Atlanta was a classic.
“Yeah, that would be a good rematch for the SEC championship,” Hill said. “But right now, we’re not looking that far down the road. We’re looking at Arkansas. We’ll take it one step at a time.”
That’s certainly been Alabama’s mantra this season. Of course, it better be if you're going to play for Nick Saban.
The No. 3-ranked Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0) haven’t had a close game in the second half since the season-opening win over Virginia Tech. They didn’t just beat the Rebels on Saturday. They beat them up.
Between them, the Florida and Alabama defenses gave up just one third-down conversion Saturday.
LSU was 1-of-9 against Florida, and Ole Miss was 0-of-9 against Alabama.
And to this point, the Crimson Tide have been even more diverse offensively than the Gators. They’ve run it when they’ve needed to (See Mark Ingram’s career-high 172 rushing yards against the Rebels), and they’ve thrown it when they’ve needed to (See what Greg McElroy has done all season without throwing an interception since the opener).
Granted, there’s still a lot of football left to be played. But a second straight No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in the SEC Championship Game doesn’t seem that far away.
12:00 PM ET South Carolina 21 Clemson 12:00 PM ET 16 Georgia Tech 9 Georgia 12:00 PM ET Kentucky 22 Louisville 3:30 PM ET Florida 3 Florida State 3:30 PM ET 4 Mississippi State 19 Ole Miss 4:00 PM ET Tennessee Vanderbilt 7:45 PM ET 15 Auburn 1 Alabama