Upchurch Hasn't Had Big Week

Imagine a boy growing up in Auburn, being an Alabama fan, and ending up at Florida preparing to play Alabama. Now consider Roy Upchurch. He grew up in Tallahassee, home of Florida State, but was a fan of both Florida and Miami. Upchurch ended up with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

This week senior tailback Roy Upchurch hopes to be a part of an Alabama victory over the Florida Gators.

Alabama and Florida play Saturday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta for the Southeastern Conference championship. Both teams are 12-0 overall and 8-0 in SEC games. The Gators are ranked first in the nation, Alabama second. CBS will televise the game, which begins at 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. central time).

"I wanted to go to Florida, but, you know, some things came up," Upchurch said this week. "But I'm glad to be here."

With no more than two games remaining in his Crimson Tide careeer, Upchurch calls this an "all-out week. I'm going to give it my all. I'm going out and doing everything I'm supposed to do."

Adding to his anticipation, Upchurch was injured (as he has been much of his career) and didn't get to play in last year's SEC Championship Game.

Upchurch said he tries not to think that he's down to no more than two games. "I'll just make the best of my opportunity and go out and have fun," he said.

He said he's also thinking beyond Saturday to a possible national championship. The winner of the SEC Championship Game is expected top head to Pasadena and a match-up for number one on January 7.

Upchurch is aware of the first challenge. "Florida is a great team," he said. "They're finishing their games as they did last year. We've got to keep fighting with them, match their intensity."

He's aware that many are predicting a defensive slugfest. "We still have to go out and make things hapen," he said. "We'll do what we have to do. Otherwise the defense would be out there all day."

Upchurch said that Alabama is a team of "fighters, just like we showed last week in the Auburn game. We just have to come out fighting and give our all."

Indeed, Alabama did have to fight to the end, and Upchurch scored the winning touchdowns. Trailing by 21-20, Bama drove to a third down at the Auburn 4. On the 15th play of the 79-yard drive, quarterback Greg McElroy threw a touchdown pass to Upchurch.

Alabama 26, Auburn 21.

Upchurch said that McElroy showed "that he wants to win and that he's a competitor. He showed that he's our quarterback and that he can get it done for us."

But, Upchurch said, his life has not changed much since providing the winning edge against the Tigers. There have been no pep rallies in his honor, no special recognition. "Nothing different," he said. "I'm just doing what I'm supposed to be doing."

Meanwhile, there was football news in Upchurch's hometown and in his homestate this week. First came the announcement of the retirement of 80-year-old FSU Coach Bobby Bowden.

"Everybody's time runs out," Upchurch said. "I had my chance to meet with him and talk with him. He's a great coach and he has a good program over there."

Of more direct interest to Alabama was the 3 a.m. Tuesday drunk driving arrest and subsequent suspension of star Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap.

"It won't be a big difference because they're still a great defense," Upchurch said. "We just have to go out and play our game."

How many players on Alabama's team weren't in bed at 3 in the morning?

"None," Upchurch surmised. "I believe everybody was in their beds. The boss, he's not with all of that."

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