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Alabama-Florida rivalry continues
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Florida offense can answer any concerns that it's not quite up to normal Gator standards Saturday in a big way. All the Gators have to do is beat Alabama.

Granted, beating the Tide is a tough assignment for any team — just ask the Arkansas Razorbacks, who had the Tide pinned in a corner last week and just needed a knockout punch to take down the best team in the land.

Instead, the Tide ducked and threw a counterpunch of their own by rallying in the final minutes to beat Arkansas 24-20. So once again we are left with this scenario, Alabama and Florida meeting in a game that not only has huge SEC implications but national title indications as well. I say indications because the season is way too early for either team to feel safe even with a victory Saturday.

However, it is time for the Gators to show us all what kind of team they really have in 2010. The seventh-ranked Gators have been mediocre by their own high standards, looking very unimpressive in wins over Miami of Ohio and South Florida.

The Gators were better against Kentucky a week ago, blowing past the Wildcats 48-14 as they finally put some points on the board in the first quarter, something they'd failed to do in their first three games.

The spark in the win was freshman Trey Burton, who broke Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow's school record by scoring six touchdowns and was extremely effective in the wildcat formation.

Of course, Alabama knows a thing or two about Heisman trophy winners, since last year's honoree, Mark Ingram might have put himself back in the running again this year when he rushed for 157 yards against the Razorbacks.

Perhaps both teams will be firing this week, giving college football fans a game to remember in the final week of September.

While it probably will feel like the end of the world for the loser, how devastating the loss will be is debatable. The SEC has five teams ranked in the top 15, so it's highly possible a one-loss SEC team could play for the national title, but that doesn't lessen the hype of this game.

The two teams have met in the last two SEC championship games, with the Gators winning it in 2008 and Alabama winning last year. Both times the winner went on to win the national title.

This week, Florida's players have talked of a little payback for the 2009 meeting, when the Tide won decisively, 32-10 and overtook Florida not only as the top team in the SEC but also the nation.

"We've had this one circled on our schedule all offseason," Florida quarterback John Brantley said this week.

So have the rest of us.

lwodraska@sltrib.com No. 1 Alabama (4-0)

No time to celebrate with Florida next

No. 2 Ohio State (4-0)

Pasted 73 points on Eastern Michigan

No. 3 TCU (4-0)

The blowouts continue with CSU next

No. 4 Florida (4-0)

Offense better be on its game this week

No. 5 Boise State (3-0)

Gets to recover with game against N.M. State

No. 6 Nebraska (4-0)

Best start since 2005

No. 7 Oregon (4-0)

Hosts Stanford in big Pac-10 matchup

No. 8 Oklahoma (4-0)

Living on the edge in recent games

No. 9 Wisconsin (4-0)

Scored on every first half possession in last win

No. 10 Auburn (4-0)

Break from SEC play with Louisiana-Monroe next —

Game of the week

Florida at Alabama • Just when Mark Ingram is back in the Heisman picture, the Tide get to host one of their favorite foes in the Florida Gators.

Team on the rise

Auburn • Slow starts haven't hurt the Tigers yet as they've come from behind in the last two weeks to win thanks to the savvy play of quarterback Cam Newton.

Team on the decline

Texas • Just when things were going so well the Longhorns lose in a shocker at home to UCLA. No time to mourn with Oklahoma and Nebraska up next.

Upset special

Miami at Clemson • Clemson's only loss was 27-24 to what is looking like a very good Auburn team. If the 'Canes aren't ready, Death Valley will get them.

Stat of the week

28/24 • Alabama has won 28 consecutive regular season games, Florida has won 24.

Heisman hype

Patrick Peterson • Rarely do defensive players get strong consideration for the award, but one might this year with the LSU cornerback terrorizing opponents. Peterson returned a punt 60 yards against West Virginia and blocked a field goal.

SEC • Big matchup has national title implications.
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