Meyer Has Done Great Job For UF
Alabama is 4-0 and ranked first in the nation. Florida is 4-0 and solidly in the top ten. The Crimson Tide and Gators will kick off shortly after 7 p.m. CDT Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium with national prime time television coverage by CBS.
The game matches the last two teams to play in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and the last two national championship squads. Many believe this is the first meeting of the year for Bama and Florida, that the squads will be playing for a third consecutive year in the SEC title game on Dec. 4.
Urban Meyer is in his sixth year at Florida. Although Bama and the Gators have a relatively thin history against one another in the previous five years, there have been extraordinarily important on- and off-the-field battles.
Meyer has obviously done an outstanding job for Florida. The Gators have won two national championships on his watch.
Alabama first went up against a Meyer-coached team in his first Florida season, 2005. Meyer had come from WAC-land, coach at Utah, and brought that brand of football to the SEC. On Alabama's first offensive play of that first meeting, Brodie Croyle connected with Tyrone Prothro on an 87-yard touchdown play, and the Crimson Tide torched the Gators, 31-3. Bama followers may have suspected Meyer was going to have a soft team, or a WAC-type squad, and be insignificant to SEC football. Wrong.
Meyer adjusted quickly to SEC style football, building very physical teams. His second squad got its revenge against Alabama, 28-13. The past two years he has split with Nick Saban's Tide, winning the SEC Championship Game in 2008 by 31-20, and going on to win the national championship, and then losing last year to Bama, 32-13, as the Tide went on to the national crown.
Meyer had something of an issue following last year's SEC Championship Game, a curious sort of retirement-unretirement perhaps related to acid reflux, but in any event directed a Florida rout of Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl.
There also have been two notable off-the-field competitions. Against Alabama and Mike Shula, Meyer won the recruiting battle for Tim Tebow, and he used Tebow as well as any coach could have. Tebow won the national championship and the Heisman Trophy. Regardless of what NFL people may think, he was an extraordinary quarterback whose talents were well-used by Meyer.
The other high-profile recruiting battle was for Trent Richardson, and Saban was the winner for Richardson's services. Although Florida has a lot of offensive weapons, it will be good for the Crimson Tide that Richardson is on the Alabama side on Saturday.
And regardless of the outcome, both teams will have excellent coaches directing the game.
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