Alabama relishing the underdog role

November, 29, 2008
11/29/08
11:38
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Not long after Alabama had put the finishing touches on a 36-0 battering of Auburn on Saturday night, somebody asked Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson about being the nation's No. 1 team and still being an underdog this coming Saturday in the SEC Championship Game.

Not that the Vegas line had come out by that time, but it's the assumption college football has made for the last several weeks.

Florida is the team to beat.

"It doesn't matter to us," Wilson said, his smile widening. "It's about the guys in the locker room. It's about our attitude. Underdog or favored, it's not going to affect the outcome of the game at all. The whole season, people have not expected us to do the things that we've done.

"We'll just keep taking it that way, and we've seemed to handle it pretty well."

Nobody on Alabama's team was coming right out and saying it, but you could tell they're reveling in the whole notion that Florida is a cut above.

Never mind that the Gators did lose to Ole Miss earlier this season and that the Crimson Tide have won 12 straight without stubbing their toe. It's hard to find anybody (at least outside the state of Alabama) who thinks Alabama is going to win what is essentially the SEC's own play-in game for the right to play for the national championship.

"They're a lot flashier than us," said Alabama's 365-pound nose tackle, Terrence Cody, who looked more like his old self Saturday after spraining his MCL against Ole Miss on Oct. 11. "We don't care about being flashy. We're just going to do what we've done all year to win games."

Senior center Antoine Caldwell has seen Florida on television several times this season. He's been impressed.

"They've got a lot of speed and they like to move around a lot," Caldwell said. "They're not awfully big guys, but are good at moving around and creating mismatches up front."

Auburn's Tommy Tuberville stopped short of picking a winner in Saturday's game, but he said Alabama was the best team the Tigers have faced this season.

Auburn senior center Jason Bosley, though, gives the nod to the Gators based on what he's seen on tape.

"Florida's been the most impressive team I've seen all year on film and everything they do," Bosley said. "If I had to make a prediction, I'd pick Florida. But you never know. They're playing with great confidence, Alabama is."

And great consistency, too.

In fact, the 36-point pummeling of the Tigers might have been the Tide's most complete performance of the season. They're like a vice-grip.

When they get a hold of you, there's no letting go. They've been tied or led in just under 756 of the last 780 minutes, and they've scored first in 12 of their last 13 games dating back to the end of last season.

"We've still got stuff we want to do," Wilson said. "We've had a good season. But if we don't finish it, it's not going to be what anybody wants."

What they want is a 13th national championship ring.

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