It is a coincidence that Alabama and Florida are playing for the SEC Championship. Since divisional play began, Alabama has won seven SEC West titles and Florida has won ten SEC East titles, the top two in the Conference (including 2009). It is not surprising then that this will be the seventh time the teams have played for the SEC Championship, and the second time it has been in consecutive years (1992-94 were UF-Bama matchups as well).
It is fate though that the Gators and Tide are undefeated and ranked #1 and #2 in the BCS rankings. Both teams have their own pressures to deal with. Florida wears the crown of a champion, which at times has seemed to overwhelm their coaches and players. Alabama has the expectations of history, and the pressure seems to be gaining on them after the angst over their offensive woes, despite improving their total offense with a first year starter.
Urban Meyer and Nick Saban are both mercenaries, but have locked into posts where they can make or break their careers. Neither man can top their historic predecessors. But to a generation that will donate more money and follows college football with more passion and intelligence than their parents, they will be the pinnacle of their schools.
Florida does not have Mark Ingram and Bama does not have Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey or Emmanuel Moody. Bama does not have Tim Tebow and Florida does not have Julio Jones. Both teams still have defenses that prop up offenses that cannot score or kick too many field goals. Just like two heavyweights, it may not be pretty, but they will pound you into submission.
And just like two heavyweights, they will have to go through a few tomato cans before their unification bout. Florida, for all the talk about a terrible offense, has won 8 of 9 games this season by double digits. Now, they get a South Carolina team that hasn't scored more than 20 points in a month and lost 3 of their last 4. After a bye week against Florida International, they get FSU, which cannot win since they are too busy trying to pull a coup on their head coach.
Bama destroyed people in their first seven games, before needing Terrence Cody's big paws and Leigh Tiffin's big leg to defeat Tennessee. A bye week was supposed to fix all the offense's woes. Yet, the Tide was losing entering the 4th quarter against LSU, before two field goals and a Jones TD and conversion sealed it for Bama. They face Mississippi State, who is not scared of anybody, then a bye week against Chattanooga. Bama then gets Auburn, who has scored 96 points in their last two games (wins) after scoring only 47 in their previous three games (losses).
Both fan bases alternate between various levels of panic and booking flights to Los Angeles on Orbitz. Both fan bases think the other is nothing but white trash or high and mighty snobs. Florida fans wonder if Bama fans will just drive their house to Pasadena, and Bama fans will reply that at least the bank doesn't own their home.
Of course, the Gators and Tide have to hold up their ends of the bargain and not slip before getting to the Atlanta Death Match 2009. Players have to avoid getting high on weed or tryptophan, and watch out for cousins giving them pills and NFL players recruiting for agents. Coaches have to game plan for everything or remove their head out of their ass. Florida has been under huge pressure all season. With the date set in Atlanta, Bama will get a taste of that same pressure too for the next three weeks.
The next four weeks will be cruel on fans and players. One loss will end a season, either now or in Atlanta. But we would not want it any other way. Only 27 days...