Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
This has already been a memorable college football season, from East Carolina shocking a pair of top-25 foes in consecutive weeks to kick things off, to Michigan shocking just about everyone with its demise, to Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree shocking the Longhorn fan base with their last-second heroics.
Those are just some of the storylines that have led up to this final week of college football and what could be a more fitting end then to have both spots in the BCS Title game up for grabs this weekend?
This Saturday will undoubtedly be the best eight hours of college football television all season long, as the top two teams in the nation, Florida and Alabama get it on for the SEC championship at 4:00 (et) from Atlanta, followed by the 8:00 (et) battle for the Big 12 title between Oklahoma and Missouri in Kansas City.
That bloc of time will feature four of the nation's premier coaching minds in Florida's Urban Meyer, Alabama's Nick Saban, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Missouri's Gary Pinkel, not to mention a slew of All-Americans all trying to make that one play that will propel their team to a conference championship and perhaps beyond.
Starting in Atlanta, it is a contrast of two different styles, with Florida's high-powered offensive attack and Alabama's methodical approach. Despite being the top-ranked team in the country, Nick Saban knows his Crimson Tide face a tremendous challenge.
"Florida has an outstanding team. Obviously their record and their ranking speaks for itself. I think the balance they have on offense, the point production and the consistency that they have shown...Tim Tebow is an outstanding player and a very good leader. The outstanding skill guys that they have, whether it's the receivers, the number runners or the combination or runner and receivers, like Percy Harvin. They have a lot of weapons. They have a lot of speed. They have a very good concept and they are very well- coached. Urban Meyer has done a fantastic job there and this is an excellent team. Defensively, they are one of the top defensive teams in the country. They have great speed and athleticism. They do a great job of forcing turnovers and forcing offensive teams to make mistakes and take advantage of it. They have speed on defense."
Nick Saban knows his Crimson Tide face a tremendous challenge against Florida.|
The Gators are probably the hottest team in the nation right now, as the squad is clicking on all cylinders in every aspect of the game. Still, Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow and company are fully aware of what's in store for them in Atlanta.
"This game is a great lesson for a young coach and for people that watch football," said Meyer. "It's not about how many yards you throw for, it's not about flash, it's about being competent in all three phases. Alabama at all three phases is extremely strong. There's not a weakness. They are an excellent football team."
Tebow is not at a loss for words either in talking about Alabama either.
"They're a great team. They have trailed I think maybe like five minutes all year or something like that, so they're not used to being behind, so hopefully we'll be able to jump on them quick and that's our goal to get out in front of them and see how they react."
That really is the key to this game. The Crimson Tide own one of the best defenses in the country, and if Florida can continue its pace offensively, it will be interesting to see what the Tide will do if they have to match score for score with the Gators.
In Kansas City, it will be Oklahoma attempting to secure the other spot in the BCS Championship Game, going up against a Missouri team that would like nothing better than to play the spoiler.
If there is a team in the country playing at a similar level to Florida, it is the Sooners. With their big win over Oklahoma State last week, the Sooners put themselves in a position to move on to Miami with a win against the Tigers.
Stoops knows that Missouri will present his team with a supreme challenge on Saturday, especially given the presence of Chase Daniel, the Tigers' All- American quarterback.
"We have tremendous respect for Coach [Gary] Pinkel, his staff and Missouri for what they have done the last several years. A bunch of great players are there, again Chase Daniel, their quarterback, is a great player. He is so efficient running their offense. You can see that his mind is so quick, and he is so familiar with everything that they do, that he can get the ball out fast and is very accurate. Then he has the ability to run and move around. He gives you a lot to deal with and he has a lot of targets to hit."
The Tigers are fighting an uphill battle in this one and certainly remember last year's Big 12 Title game, a 38-17 romp for the Sooners. Coach Pinkel isn't conceding anything though.
"I think anytime you have an opportunity like this, it's great. Not many people give us a chance. This is awesome. This is what you're in it for. I'm excited about it and my team's excited about it. I have a great respect for them. We'll get ready to play."
Whoever wins the SEC Championship will earn a spot in the BCS title game. The other half of the equation isn't as clear-cut. If Oklahoma wins, the Sooners are in, but if Missouri wins, then Texas will earn the other spot, much to the delight of the Lone Star State.
This is what it is all about. Four teams not knowing their fate, all with a chance at the ultimate prize. A fifth team trying to play the spoiler.
Does anyone think this Saturday won't live up to the hype?