When the first BCS Standings came out, many people were questioning the Florida Gators placement at No. 2. After the 44-11 beatdown given to the South Carolina Gamecocks, the Gators proved to the nation that they are a legit contender for the BCS National Championship.
The No.3 Florida Gators hold a 7-0 (6-0 in SEC ) record and ultimately need just one more conference victory against the Georgia Bulldogs to have their tickets punched to Atlanta, Georgia to represent the SEC East in 2012 SEC Championship Game.
Looking out to the West, there are currently three teams in the hunt for the SEC West. There are the No.13 Mississippi State Bulldogs 7-0 (3-0 in SEC), the No.6 LSU Tigers 7-1 (6-1 in SEC) and the Crimson Tide of Alabama 7-0 (4-0), who hasn't lost any ground in the Top 25 and still sits at No. 1 atop the FBS.
I'm projecting the Florida Gators to finish the regular season undefeated, since they can easily defeat No. 12 Georgia and a tumbling Chris Thompson-less Florida State team. With three other games against a weak transitioning Missouri Tigers team, a somewhat tough Ragin' Cajun La. Lafayette team out of the Sun Belt and a FCS school in Jacksonville State, it's hard not to see the Gators going into the SEC Championship Game with nothing less than a 12-0 record.
I am also projecting that Nick Saban's Crimson Tide to go undefeated. With two tough tasks ahead of them, this will be the time we see close calls for upsets against Alabama. I fully expect the Bulldogs of Mississippi State, to keep the game close, but will fall off in the fourth quarter.
I expect LSU to take 'Bama to the final whistle, but lose to the Tide by a field goal. After the two tasks are completed, the Tigers will take on a tough Aggies squad at home (which they should beat) and finish the year against two weak teams in Western Carolina and Auburn.
With the Crimson Tide and Gators both standing at 12-0, the 2012 SEC Championship winner will get its tickets punched to Miami Gardens, Florida for the 2012 BCS National Championship Game.
The Tide are sitting on cloud nine right now and believe they can't be touched. Here are three reasons why Alabama should fear the Florida Gators.
Will Muschamp (pictured to the right) yells at on of his defensive players. Head coach Nick Saban is pictured in the center. One of the years Muschamp worked under Saban.
Before accepting the job to become the Florida Gators head coach, Will Muschamp served as defensive coordinator for the LSU Tigers, Auburn Tigers and the Texas Longhorns (where he was appointed as successor of Longhorn head coach Mack Brown). He also was the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins.
In 2001 Muschamp joined Nick Saban's staff as the linebackers coach for the LSU Tigers, before he was appointed defensive coordinator for the 2002 season. Muschamp's impressive defensive logic propelled the 2003 LSU Tigers to the BCS championship game, where they beat the Oklahoma Sooners 21-14. Muschamp's defensive unit led the nation in scoring defense (11.0 points per game) and total defense (252.0 yards per game).
In 2005 Muschamp once again joined Saban, but this time it was in the National Football League, when Saban was named as head coach for the Miami Dolphins. Serving as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator, Muschamp led a defense that ranked 15th in total defense (317.4 total yards per game), ranked second in quarterback sacks (49) and only gave up a total of 19.8 points per game.
Muschamp left the Saban regime and joined the Tigers of Auburn, where he once again called the shots as defensive coordinator. Muschamp's unit finished in the top 10 in scoring defense, only giving up 21 touchdowns all season in 2006. In 2007, Auburn's defense ranked in the top 10 in four defensive categories.
Now in 2006, Saban (still with the Miami Dolphins) was slated to have his team appear in the NFL playoffs in the preseason predictions after an impressive 9-7 2005 season. The Dolphins started the season with a 1-6 record. Four straight victories gave the Dolphins some life, but in the end Saban's Dolphins finished 6-10. On Jan. 3, 2007, Saban was announced the 27th head coach of the University of Alabama.
In 2008 Muschamp accepted the job as defensive coordinator for the Texas Longhorns. As he did with his prior jobs, Muschamp's defense excelled. In the 2010 BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl, we saw Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide go up against the Texas Longhorns. Muschamp's defense was torched in the running game, but had only given up 263 total yards (205 rushing) in that game onward to Nick Saban winning the BCS 37-21.
Muschamp can be considered a protege of Saban's. You get to know people very well when you work under them for two or three years. Well Muschamp has worked under Saban for five. You know by Muschamp's reputation, that if he gets to square off against Saban in a BCS National Championship Bowl implication matchup, he will have his Gators intense and enthusiastic for the game.
A somber Tim Tebow (pictured to the right) congratulates an excited Nick Saban after the Gators 2009 SEC Championship loss.
Remember back in 2009, when the No.1 Florida Gators (led by Tim Tebow) took on No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game? This was the game where the Gators offense couldn't get started and the Crimson Tide torched the Gators defense onward to a crying Tim Tebow and a 32-13 victory for 'Bama.
A few months later the Crimson Tide would win the BCS National Championship, while Florida settled for a Sugar Bowl victory, when it destroyed the No. 4 Brian Kelly-led Cincinnati Bearcats 51-24 on New Year's Day.
That loss to Alabama is still is painfully to think about. I personally remember that day. When the fourth quarter began, I was just sickened. It was suppose to be back to back national titles. It was supposed to be the triumphant last season for one of the greatest college football players of all time, but the Gators fell short.
Not only we're myself or Gator Nation in pain, but then head coach Urban Meyer was admitted into a Gainesville hospital suffering from chest pains and dehydration, shortly after returning home after the SEC Championship game.
In 2011, the Gators were ranked No. 12 when they took on No. 3 Alabama at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium a.k.a "The Swamp." With the Gators at 4-0, the Gator hopeful thought the 12th man would play in a factor into a huge upset, but the Crimson Tide once again proved to be too strong for the Gators and Will Muschamp's first head coaches duel with his former employer Nick Saban. In front of 90,888 fans the Gators were disgraced, 10-38. After the Alabama loss, the Gators went 3-5 and made Muschamp's first season as Florida's head coach a mediocre 7-6 year.
Without a doubt, the Gators will eneter the game against Alabama with great memories of what happened last year and three years ago. The Gators will be out for blood.
What could be at stake if Alabama and Florida meet up in the SEC Championship game.
If you look on paper, these two teams match up well against each other. They both have amazing defensive-minded coaches in Florida's head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Alabama's head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. They both have top-10 ranked total defenses; Florida ranks seventh overall giving up 97.3 rushing yards per game and 184.7 passing yards per game, while Alabama ranks first in total defense giving up 58.7 rushing yards per game and 136.9 yards passing.
Both squads have decent offenses as well. Alabama ranks 39th overall gaining 219.4 yards rushing per game, while throwing for 220.1 yards per game. The Gators have had their struggles on the offensive side of the ball, as they rank 101st overall. The Gators are rushing for 212.7 yards per game, but only average 137.7 in the air. The passing game would have to improve drastically in the next five games for the Gators to be relevant in the passing game.
The Gators have proved throughout the season that they won't give up. The Gators needed a second-half rally to beat a pesky Texas A&M squad on the road 20-17 on Sept. 8. The Gators also went into a hostile Knoxville, Tennessee to hand the Vols their first loss 37-20 on Sept.15.
Florida would then upset the LSU Tigers in a defensive struggle 14-6 and destroyed South Carolina 44-11, after South Carolina was in need for a big win after an LSU loss the week before. The real test will be how well the Gators offense can play against Georgia, Missouri, La. Lafayette, Jacksonville State and Florida State. The offense can't only survive on the run, but the Gators will also need Jeff Driskel to start adding to his passing yards.
The Gators can very well beat the Crimson Tide "IF" they are pitted against each other in the SEC Championship Game. The only real problem the Gators have is their passing attack. With five games left in the 2012 regular season, the Gators and their quarterback Driskel have enough time to get into a groove.
If everything pans out the way I see it, the 2012 SEC Championship will be one of the most anticipated games in the last decade. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No.2/3 Florida Gators. Make sure you circle Saturday, December 1 on your calenders.
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