Bama vs. Florida: Rematch Made in Heaven
Before the season, Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy said the Crimson Tide's proud legacy wouldn't be restored until the team won a Southeastern Conference title or a national championship.
Months later, the resolve is the same. "I think we are exactly where we want to be, exactly where we thought we could be," McElroy said last week in Tuscaloosa.
The same could be said of the national championship picture, as well. Preseason projections look much like the present. The winner of Saturday's SEC championship game between Florida and Alabama, the top two teams in the current Bowl Championship Series standings, will advance to the national title game. The SEC winner will face BCS No. 3 Texas if the Longhorns defeat No. 22 Nebraska for the Big 12 title.
All season, defending national champ Florida has faced the pressure of expectations. Fans clamored for a rematch of last year's epic SEC title clash and a return to the national championship game.
"College football wants this game," Florida coach Urban Meyer said Sunday. "I've been hearing for a long time, trying to ignore it and push it back, and I know our players have been too. . . . Now it's right here in front of us, there's a sense of, 'Hey, we're here now. Let's not worry about it, let's just go play.' "
Last year, Alabama was No. 1 entering the SEC title game only to be outdueled by a Tim Tebow-led fourth-quarter comeback. The motivation is clear. "I think this team has developed almost a bully mentality that we can beat anybody if we play our game," McElroy said.
There is a slight possibility for an SEC rematch if 14-point favorite Texas loses to Nebraska. Voters would have to choose among No. 4 TCU, No. 5 Cincinnati (which must beat No. 15 Pittsburgh) and the SEC loser. "If there's no consensus among voters," independent BCS analyst Jerry Palm said, "it could come down to the computers."
Palm also said Cincinnati had a "better than 50-50" chance to pass TCU in next Sunday's final standings.