2008 SEC Championship Preview: Part 1 of 3

T.L. PellmanSenior Analyst IDecember 2, 2008

South Eastern Conference

Championship Game

University of Alabama vs University of Florida

Georgia Dome Atlanta, GA -DEC 06



By Terry Pellman 

Alabama fans find themselves in a familiar place, but in an unexpected setting this Saturday when the Tide face off against the Gators for the 2008 SEC Championship title. It's something fan base hasn't enjoyed recently but have special memories from being in this position many times in the past and enjoying winning 21 SEC Titles since the birth of the South Eastern Conference.

Depending on who you speak with, the outcome of this game from one fan to the other can easily be polar opposites. That disparity is even found in the national media, even found within the same studio. While Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN's Gameday has had Florida as one of the teams he's expected all year long to compete for the BCS National Championship, ESPN's Mark Schlabach says, "The Gators won't beat the Tide."

The term "classic match-up" seems to be a misnomer. But, if you look back you have had a chance to witness a game that featured an offense that loved to spread the ball around in a quick scoring fashion versus a team that ran the ball predominantly and relied on strong defensive and offensive lines. No, I'm not referring to past SEC Championships games between Florida and Alabama, although I could, but I'm thinking more along the lines of No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams facing each other.

Ironically, that year did feature Florida and Alabama in the top of the national rankings. That year also had these two teams facing each other in Atlanta for the SEC title. But that year, and specifically the game I'm referring to, had a No. 2 ranked Florida team facing a fundamental Nebraska team in the Fiesta Bowl: 1996 the year.

I'm sure, to a person within the Florida fan base (and a certain coach now in Columbia, South Carolina,) they would rather forget that game.

Forget that game? A feeling shared with another SEC teams' fan base this week as the Tiger faithful would rather forget running into, and then being run over, by the Crimson Tide this past weekend.

Are the Florida Gators in 2008 the college football version of the "Greatest Show on Turf" the NFL witnessed starting in the 1999 football season? Gator fans probably like the description, but don't want a thing to do with the Gator team that played in the Georgia Dome in 1999.

Is this Alabama team in 2008 fundamentally like that 1996 Nebraska team as a unit that will win the battle in the trenches, run the ball successfully while playing very disciplined football? Alabama fans probably like the description and wouldn't mind being a team like that when facing Florida this weekend.

Here on the Bleacher Report, we'll break this game down bit by bit over the next two days looking at different aspects of this match up.

Could it be done all at once? Sure. But, do you want to read a book today, or just a few chapters spread out of the next few days.

Coming tomorrow:

* UA's and UF's Special Team Preview and Breakdown.

* UA's Defense vs UF's Offense.


Coming Thursday:

* UA's Offense vs UF's Defense.

* Nick Saban vs Urban Meyer.

* Projected 2008 SEC Champion.