COLUMBIA, S.C. — No one handles college football's center stage like No. 1 Alabama, and few understand that as well as South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier.
For many of his 12 seasons at Florida, the sharp-tongued Spurrier and his dynamic Fun 'n' Gun offense were the face of college football. There wasn't a pass pattern he wouldn't try or a school he wouldn't needle as the Gators kept winning on their way to the 1996 national title and six SEC championships.
Now, the spotlight has moved on to defending national champion Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC) and Spurrier sees a similar ability to thrive amid the 24/7 attention that will descend on South Carolina (3-1, 1-1) today.
"They really do have the ability to go one game at a time and not get full of themselves after wins," Spurrier said. "They've got a track record, a big win does not affect them the next week."
And Alabama has had a lot of them recently. It beat Arkansas 24-20 on the road two weeks ago, rallying to defeat an SEC West Division foe many had thought was ready to supplant the Tide.
Alabama followed that up last week by blasting Florida 31-6, the Tide's second straight decisive defeat of the Gators.
Now, they head for a third straight SEC showdown in a hyped-up, sold-out Williams-Brice Stadium with ESPN's College GameDay on campus.
"Each week you have a new challenge, and you learn more about your team. Like, how are we going to respond this week?" Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "We play another very good team on the road in a difficult place to play. Are we going to be able to challenge ourselves to continue to do the things we need to do to play at a high standard?"
No one's standards are higher than Alabama's right now.
The Crimson Tide hasn't lost a regular-season game since 2007 or to anyone at all the past two seasons. Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram leads an offense that tops the SEC in points (37.8 per game), while a defense that was expected to take a step back leads the country in fewest points allowed per game.
Spurrier, who has had only one winning SEC season in six years at South Carolina, accepts his second-banana role this week. "But that's okay," he said. "If they believe this is one of the biggest games in the country this week, we're happy to participate, and I believe we'll give a good account of ourselves."
Rutgers 27, UConn 24: San San Te kicked a 34-yard field goal with 13 seconds to play as the host Scarlet Knights (3-2, 1-0 Big East) rallied for 10 points in the final 3:53 to beat the Huskies (3-3, 0-1). Freshman quarterback Chas Dodd (18-for-29, 322 yards) threw a 52-yard touchdown to Mark Harrison to tie it with 3:53 left, and he set up Te's winning field goal with a 45-yard pass to Jeremy Deering. Jordan Todman ran for 123 yards and a touchdown, and Nick Williams scored on a 100-yard kickoff return for Connecticut.
Alabama: Tuscaloosa police say they didn't initially realize that a man arrested for drug possession was a former Tide football star. Police Chief Steven Anderson said officers were unaware until later that a man picked up on marijuana charges was DJ Hall, who leads all Crimson Tide receivers in career yardage with 2,923 yards. He played from 2004 to 2007. A former walk-on player, Darwin Salaam, also was arrested. Anderson said managers at an extended-stay hotel called police to complain about a marijuana smell. The chief said officers found the ex-players in a room with 3 ounces of marijuana, prescription medication and a 9 mm pistol.
Nebraska: The school unveiled a $56 million plan to expand Memorial Stadium and boost its capacity from 81,067 to about 90,000 in time for the 2013 season. Athletic director Tom Osborne said joining the Big Ten, which includes 100,000-seat stadiums at Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State, partly spurred the move. The proposed expansion will go before university regents next week. Meanwhile, former Cornhuskers star Ndamukong Suh, now a defensive lineman with the NFL's Lions, donated $2 million, asking that the money to be used to install Apple iPads in the players lockers.
West Virginia: Running back Noel Devine, who injured his right big toe two weeks ago, will be a game-time decision today against UNLV.