Gators and Tide on a Collision Course for Atlanta

Jackson SmithContributor INovember 11, 2008

The 2008 SEC Championship Game is almost what we all expected. Before the season started, everyone picked the Florida Gators to be playing for the title.

The surprise, however, is the Alabama Crimson Tide. They were supposed to be a year or two away from being a contender. Nevertheless, the SEC title match-up is set. The Gators and Tide meet on Dec. 6 in what is turning into a battle of the Titans.

Florida got off to a somewhat slow start in the season. The offense did not look like that of a juggernaut team in any of the games leading up to their only loss to Ole Miss. In every game since that loss, however, the words of a teary-eyed Tim Tebow continue to ring in the heads of their opponents.

We would never see a team work harder than the Gators would for the rest of the season, and up to this point, he may not have been lying. Since the loss, they have won by enormous margins, averaging at around 37 points.

With three games to play before the title game, some are already placing Florida in the National Championship game in January.

But the Crimson Tide are not ready to anoint to the Gators just yet. Their improbable, yet impressive season continues. And while they do not blow teams out every week, they play hard-nosed, tough football. With arguably the best offensive line in the nation, and the three-headed-monster running back group in the backfield, even John Parker Wilson has managed to look good this year.

The offense of both teams have looked good this year, but I believe the X-factor of this game will be the defenses. The Gators’ have the top scoring defense in the SEC, and fourth-best in the country. This is aided by being fourth in the nation in turnover margin, as well as not giving up the “big play.”

Playmakers such as cornerback Joe Haden and linebacker Dustin Doe have emerged as leaders on the defense, behind middle linebacker stalwart Brandon Spikes. There is not a single senior starting on the defense, but they continue to over achieve and play fantastic football.

The Alabama defense has Nick Saban’s name all over it. Numerous blitz packages have been keeping offensive lines confused all season long. They are solid in the secondary and have exceptional linebackers and defensive linemen, and are fourth in the country in total defense. With the mammoth defensive tackle Terrence Cody in the middle of the defense, Florida’s offensive line should have their hands full for the entire game.

These defenses are both tops in the nation this year and this will truly be a great game. It is shaping up to be a national championship semi-final, and could be closer than the actual BCS Title game.

What does Florida have to do to win?

  • Stop the run! Alabama’s entire offense is predicated on a successful running attack, and if they can stop it, they force a shaky John Parker Wilson to win the game with his arm.
  • Get off to a fast start. Bama has destroyed opponents in the first quarter this season. We all saw what happened when LSU kept it close with them into the fourth quarter.  
  • Speed, speed, and more speed. Florida has much more speed on both sides of the ball. Make a gameplan that utilizes this. Get Harvin, Demps, and Rainey the football.  
  • Finally, turn Tebow loose. Let him do whatever is necessary to win that game.


What does Alabama have to do to win?

  • The exact opposite. Run the football early and often.  
  • Win the turnover game. Florida gives it away less than any team in the country.  
  • Negate some of the Gators’ speed by not over pursuing on defense and running screens and draws on offense.


  • I have to go with my Florida Gators in this game. They are playing better, more efficient football than any other team in the country. I look for them to use Percy Harvin in every way possible, and he and Tim Tebow take the game over. The defense will force John Parker Wilson into mistakes and force a couple of turnovers. I think Florida wins fairly comfortably. Something like 35-17.


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