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Score: Florida 31, Alabama 20
Date: Dec. 6, 2008
The Georgia Dome. SEC Championship Game. No. 1 Alabama, SEC West champion with a 12-0 record, taking on No. 2 Florida, SEC East champion with an 11-1 record.
Tim Tebow vs. the Alabama defense. Nick Saban vs. Urban Meyer. Winner goes to Miami for the BCS National Championship game, loser settles for Sugar and no crystal ball.
It was the perfect setting, and it would be a near-perfect game.
These teams had very contrasting styles. While both played great defense, Alabama had a power-attack offense led by RBs Glenn Coffee and Mark Ingram, while Florida had a spread offense that was powered by QB Tim Tebow. Florida could strike at any time, while Alabama would move down the field methodically on you.
But early on, the scripts were flipped.
Florida scored on their first drive, a lengthy drive that ate up nearly six minutes.
Alabama then responded with a long bomb to Julio Jones, followed by an 18-yard TD run by Ingram. The Crimson Tide's drive took 54 seconds.
After a back-and-forth first half, Florida held a 17-10 lead at the break. The third quarter was owned completely by Alabama, as they held the ball most of the time and moved the ball effectively.
A short Ingram run tied the game at 17. With eight seconds left in the quarter, legendary kicker Leigh Tiffin made a short field goal to give Alabama a 20-17 lead after three.
But in this defacto National Championship game, Florida turned into a dominant team in the fourth quarter. They had battled back all year since an early loss to Ole Miss, and they weren't going to watch it end that day.
Florida owned the ball in the fourth quarter. Jeff Demps ran it in from a yard out to give the Gators a 24-20 lead over the Crimson Tide. Later in the game, a big pass play from Tebow led to a short TD pass from Tebow to Riley Cooper.
Florida had a BCS title game appearance in sight with a 31-20 lead, but Alabama was a dangerous team who could come back.
The Gators made sure that didn't happen though. They picked off Alabama's John Parker Wilson on their next possession, and the game was over.
After this game, it was obvious to anyone watching: This was the national title game. Florida's win over Oklahoma was just a bonus. Florida and Alabama looked like the two best teams in the nation at the Dome, but Florida was the best.