SEC FOOTBALL: A Day For The Ages

No matter what the results might be, no matter how great the level of play, this Saturday has to be one of the most incredible days in SEC history... and this can be legitimately said before, not after, any of the games kick off.

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Let's put it into perspective here: the Florida Gators' battle against the man who made the UF program what it was --- one of the most anticipated games of the entire 2005 season, not just in the SEC --- has wound up being an early afternoon kickoff on Jefferson-Pilot. That's right --- Florida versus Spurrier is the third-best game on November 12, 2005. That tells you something about the quality of this day of SEC games.

At the beginning of this season, who knew that Alabama --- certainly underrated, but still with loads of question marks --- would survive still more injuries (they've always existed in the Mike Shula era) to go 9-0 entering a holy war against LSU? Who knew that Georgia would rise to the top of the East after numerous personnel losses, only to have a D.J. Shockley injury jeopardize its division title hopes? Who knew that Florida would still be alive in the East after those hard-to-watch losses in Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge? Who knew that Steve Spurrier would have the Gamecocks at 6-3 heading into the game against his alma mater?

The realities surrounding this extraordinary Saturday are amazing. For one thing, Steve Spurrier and Florida fans will be on opposite sides of the divide. That's a sentence that's hard to digest. A second --- and no less amazing --- reality is that Auburn fans will be rooting, and rooting HARD, for Alabama to win a football game. Yes, if the Tide beats the Bayou Bengals, then Tommy Tuberville's team can --- with a win over Georgia --- put itself in position to win the SEC West with an Iron Bowl win. If LSU triumphs in Tuscaloosa, however, Auburn will be eliminated in its pursuit of a second straight division and conference crown. They'll be wanting the Tide to roll in The Loveliest Village On the Plain.

What in the world is going on around here?

Oh, and get this beauty, too: Georgia fans will be rooting for Steve Spurrier on Saturday.

(Insert open-mouth, slack-jawed look of incredulity here.)

And oh, try this one on for size as well: Tennessee won't be rooting for or against anyone. No, not because the Vols have already clinched the East on their way to Atlanta and then Pasadena, but because the Children of the Checkerboard-decked by the Gators, Georgia and even South Carolina --- must scramble to merely play in the Music City Bowl against a middle-division Big Ten team.

What's also neat about this Saturday is that each of these three titanic tilts will be played in spaced-out time slots. The only small bit of overlap between any two of these games will come at 3:35 Eastern time, when the final minutes of UF-USC coincide with the first minutes of LSU-Bama. But aside of perhaps 20-25 minutes, SEC fans --- in Gainesville, Columbia, Baton Rouge, T-town, Auburn and Athens --- will get to see these feature games without having to worry about what's going on somewhere else.

Much as the United States Open Tennis Championship has "Super Saturday," with two men's semifinals and the women's final, SEC football has it's own Super Saturday this weekend. No, we won't get into comparisons that suggest which game can be likened to the women's final (though Gators of all ages hope Auburn turns Georgia into something that rhymes with witch...), but the point is well taken: this will be a sensational Saturday for SEC fans, and also the sport of college football. When Florida V. Spurrier is your appetizer, you have an incredible day of football coming, no matter how the games play out.

Enjoy --- you don't get a Saturday like this one every decade, let alone every year.

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