GAINESVILLE — After weeks of downplaying the SEC title game so his team could remain focused on the opponent at hand, Florida coach Urban Meyer acknowledged Sunday that it's a relief to finally get to championship week.
And he's in no way downplaying the significance now. With rival Florida State out of the way and UF's undefeated regular season now part of school history, the Gators have turned their full attention to Saturday's showdown with Alabama, beginning with a team meeting Sunday.
"We realize with playing in the SEC Championship comes an enormous amount of obligation and responsibility," Meyer said. "And that means getting ready to play a great football team in a great environment, and we're anxious to do it."
Meyer said Saturday is the equivalent of "a one-game season."
"When it's 1 vs. 2, college football wants this game," he said. "I've been hearing it for a long time and trying to ignore it and put it back. And I know our players have been."
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong believes the defenses will be the key to the game. Florida is No. 1 in Division I-A in total defense (233.08 yards a game) and scoring defense (9.83), while Alabama is No. 3 (233.92) and No. 2 (10.83), respectively. UF is No. 1 in passing defense, and Alabama is No. 2 in rushing defense.
"Whoever can play the best defense will win this football game," Strong said. "Our guys understand that, I don't even have to say that."
The Gators like the challenge. "I like the way they play," CB Joe Haden said. "They play hard on defense, they run the ball good and Julio (Jones) is a great receiver."
INJURY UPDATE: Junior RB Emmanuel Moody's status remains uncertain after missing the past two weeks with a sprained ankle.
"He's still questionable," Meyer said. "Saw him (Sunday), said he's feeling a lot better. Tried to practice last Wednesday, Thursday, and it wasn't right."
CB Janoris Jenkins left the FSU game with a strained hip but is expected to play.
INGRAM TO PLAY: Alabama RB Mark Ingram is expected to play against the Gators despite suffering a hip pointer against Auburn. Ingram is the league's top rusher, averaging 127 yards per game.
"I think he'll be fine," coach Nick Saban said. "… We'll see more (today) and how he moves around practice."
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3389.