The common perception is that the Big 12 has stolen the SEC's spotlight as the premier conference this season, what with its bevy of top-10 showdowns and collection of Heisman candidate quarterbacks. But it's the SEC that has the two top teams facing off in Atlanta for a spot in the national title game. This may be the Big 12's season, but all eyes will be on the Georgia Dome Saturday afternoon, when new school and old school clash for the SEC title.
Since the matchup has been settled for weeks, there has been so much anticipation that this feels more like a national title game than a conference championship. Everyone clearly knows what's at stake.
"There's stuff going around that we can go to some big-time bowl I guess, a big-time game," Florida receiver
The location adds another bit of flavor to the proceedings. Both teams have delivered wins in the Georgia Dome that, in retrospect, have signaled their resurgences. In 2006, Florida beat Arkansas for the SEC title en route to their first national championship in 10 years, while earlier this season, the Crimson Tide thrashed then-No. 9 Clemson in their opener. Of course, it's been a while since 'Bama has played on this stage having last made an appearance in the SEC title game in 1999.
"It's been like that kind of the entire season. It's always been that we haven't done enough,"
'Bama's biggest wins are against three teams (Clemson, Georgia and LSU) which have all had disappointing seasons and three of their victories have been by six points or fewer. But it's not so much
Alabama is as old school as a
Hulking nose guard
The 53rd-ranked offense has a few "name" players, like quarterback
This blue-collar approach vastly differs from that of the Gators. In winning eight straight games by at least 28 points, Florida has captured the nation's attention with its new-age offense and a defense that thrives on making big plays (32 turnovers, including 23 picks).
For the second straight season, the offense is best known as the
At the end of the day, though, it's Harvin who is the Gators' most dangerous runner roster. If he does play, it's hard to imagine him not being limited, especially when you consider the way Harvin makes cuts. But having him on the field, limited or not, means he has to be accounted for. Not having him means the Gators will likely lean on Demps, who averages 9.6 yards per carry, to duplicate Harvin's home-run capabilities. The Gators have more than enough weapons, but replicating the nervousness a fully healthy Harvin instills in a defensive coordinator will be difficult.
"As defensive coaches you want to stop the run. You don't want people to be able to run the ball against you, and that's a tall order against Alabama. They're very good and [offensive coordinator]
"The quarterback [Wilson] is just so steady. He doesn't make a lot of mistakes, doesn't put them in bad situations. He's a little more athletic than you think he is; he's able to get out of some trouble.
"Their strong suit is running the football. Those offensive linemen are very good run blockers. They're a lot less effective at pass protection. That's why a lot of the time you'll see them move the pocket a little bit, and throw the football off of play action. So they have to establish that running game to be successful throwing the football. Just the way that offensive line is built, they're not a team that can just drop back, stand tall in the pocket and throw the football."