No matter how you slice it, Alabama's Greg McElroy is the “other” quarterback in Saturday's SEC championship game.
But, then, just about anybody paired against Florida's Tim Tebow is going to be the “other” quarterback.
On paper, Tebow vs. McElroy may look like a mismatch. And you're already hearing the invariable, “Who do you like best if the game comes down to the fourth quarter?”
It almost certainly will come down to the fourth quarter, and nobody has forgotten what Tebow did in those final 15 minutes a year ago against the Crimson Tide.
But if you put McElroy's passing numbers up against Tebow's passing numbers this season in SEC games, they're very comparable.
In fact, McElroy's touchdown-to-interception ratio is better, and he also passed for more yards. McElroy threw 11 touchdown passes and just three interceptions against SEC defenses, while passing for 1,484 yards.
Tebow threw just seven touchdown passes this season against SEC defenses and was intercepted four times. He had 1,305 passing yards.
Granted, a huge part of Tebow's game is running the football, a dimension that McElroy doesn't possess.
And this is also familiar territory for Tebow. He led the Gators to fourth-quarter wins in both the SEC championship game and BCS National Championship Game a year ago.
But McElroy also comes off arguably the most important drive of his career last week against Auburn.
To be in that situation, on the road, and deliver was a huge boost for him and a huge boost for all the guys around him.
If there were any doubts about McElroy and this offense being able to get it done in crunch time, they were erased last Friday on the Plains.
“I think it was important for everybody involved,” McElroy said. “I think the fact that we didn't play our best game and the fact that we were able to learn and also having gotten the victory is obviously huge for us as a team and as our confidence is concerned.
“So it was important for us as an offense because most times people will sit back and say, ‘OK, if our offense is put in charge of winning that, shoot, we're going to be out of luck.' But it was nice for all of us to kind of be able to put together a drive and give them a memorable moment.”
The thing that stood out to McElroy was the confidence in that huddle last Friday during that decisive drive. The Crimson Tide hadn't run the ball well and really hadn't done anything consistently well on offense the entire game.
But needing a drive to keep alive their national championship hopes, they came through.
And the guy leading the way was McElroy, who's now 28-0 as a starting quarterback going back to his high school days.
“He's a cool customer when the pressure's on,” Alabama tight end Colin Peek said. “A lot of quarterbacks may have stumbled or had nerves, but he just stayed really relaxed in the pocket and showed tremendous poise.”
He'll need that same kind of poise Saturday (and maybe then some) against the best defense he's faced all season.