It is the most anticipated game of the season, the showdown college football fans and prognosticators predicted long before Florida and Alabama actually clinched their respective SEC divisions. No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama will clash for the second consecutive year in Saturday's SEC Championship Game, with a trip to the BCS national title game on the line. The winner goes to Pasadena, Calif. The loser to the Sugar Bowl. It's that simple. "It's probably the biggest week we've ever had here," said coach Urban Meyer, now in his fifth season with the Gators. The Gators and Crimson Tide have met six times before in the SEC Championship Game, with Florida winning four. In fact, every time Alabama has played in the title game, it has been against the Gators. A look at past Florida-Alabama meetings in the SEC title game:
Dec. 5, 1992
Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala.
THE SETUP: No. 2 Alabama was undefeated (11-0); No. 12 Florida was 8-2
HOW IT WENT DOWN: The inaugural game wasn't decided until the final minutes, with Alabama winning 28-21. Florida tied it at 21 on Errict Rhett's 1-yard run with 8:09 left. But Alabama CB Antonio Langham intercepted a Shane Matthews pass and returned it 27 yards for the winning touchdown with 3:16 to go. Alabama went on to win the national championship, beating Miami 34-13 in the Sugar Bowl.
Dec. 4, 1993
Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala.
THE SETUP: No. 9 Florida was 9-2; No. 14 Alabama was 8-2-1
HOW IT WENT DOWN: The Gators get revenge with a 28-13 victory. Florida QB Terry Dean was 20-of-37 for 256 yards and two touchdowns — a 13-yard pass to WR Harrison Houston and a 43-yard pass to WR Jack Jackson. RB Errict Rhett rushed 22 times for 88 yards.
Dec. 3, 1994
Georgia Dome, Atlanta
THE SETUP: No. 3 Alabama entered undefeated (11-0); No. 6 Florida was 9-1-1.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: The Gators upset the Tide 24-23 in a classic. Alabama took a 23-17 lead on a 23-yard interception return by LB Dwayne Rudd with 8:56 left, but the Tide chose not to go for the two-point conversion, which would have forced Florida to convert one if it scored a touchdown. Florida QB Danny Wuerffel (23-of-41, 227 yards) redeemed himself with the winning touchdown — a 2-yard pass to Chris Doering with 5:29 left. Alabama's final possession ended when QB Jay Barker was intercepted by Eddie Lake with 44 seconds left.
Dec. 7, 1996 | Georgia Dome, Atlanta
THE SETUP: No. 4 Florida entered 10-1; No. 15 Alabama was 9-2
HOW IT WENT DOWN: The Gators won this shootout 45-30, with QB Danny Wuerffel throwing for six touchdowns, including three to WR Reidel Anthony (21, 13 and 21 yards) and an 85-yarder to WR Jacquez Green. Trailing 31-21 late in the third quarter, Alabama's Fred Kitchens connected with Michael Vaughn for a 94-yard TD pass to pull the Tide within three. But the Gators scored the next 14 points. Florida went on to beat Florida State 52-20 in the Sugar Bowl for its first national title.
Dec. 4, 1999 | Georgia Dome, Atlanta
THE SETUP: No. 5 Florida was 9-2; Alabama was 9-2. The Tide had won 40-39 in overtime earlier in the season.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: The Gators suffer their worst defeat in the SEC title game, 34-7. Alabama's Freddie Milons had a 77-yard touchdown run on his way to 116 yards rushing. Florida quarterback Jesse Palmer was 7-of-20 for 80 yards and three interceptions.
Dec. 6, 2008 | Georgia Dome, Atlanta
THE SETUP: No. 1 Alabama entered undefeated at 12-0; No. 2 Florida was 11-1. The winner was going to the BCS title game.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: The Gators led 17-10 at halftime after Florida QB Tim Tebow hit WR David Nelson for a 5-yard pass. Alabama tied it at 17 in the third quarter on a 2-yard run by Mark Ingram, then Leigh Tiffin's field goal put the Tide up 20-17. Florida scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, including an eight-play, 65-yard drive that took 4 minutes, 37 seconds, capped by a 5-yard pass from Tebow to WR Riley Cooper with 2:50 left for a 31-20 victory. Florida went on to win the BCS title game 24-14 over Oklahoma.