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Rivalries: 1. Alabama 2. Florida

What's in a rivalry?

It depends on where you live and what's at stake.

In Florida this weekend, it's all about the Gators and the Seminoles. But in Alabama, it's all about Auburn-Alabama. It seems the folks in Alabama are claiming they have the better rivalry. Their dislike runs deeper and the stakes are higher because both play in the same conference.

Believe it or not, Florida coach Steve Spurrier said he thinks the Auburn and Alabama fans have a valid point.

"Just to be honest, we are not in the same conference as FSU," Spurrier said. "If we were both in the SEC, this would be one of the biggest rivalries in the country because both of us have won a lot, have won our conference championship. Usually both teams are 9-1, or better some years, coming into the game.

"As far as winning the game and moving on to play for the national championship, that's been involved several years also and that makes it a big game. Since we are not in the same conference I just have to believe it takes something away from it."

Don't think for one minute, however, that Spurrier doesn't consider the game important.

"I think it is still us and them," he said. "Both teams desperately want to win, don't get me wrong. We desperately want to win the game and we are going to try our best to win the game."

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Florida fans probably can't even fathom the thought of quarterback Rex Grossman in garnet and gold. But it could have turned out that way.

When he first started the recruiting process, Grossman sent a tape of his high school playing achievements to Florida State. He also had conversations with former offensive coordinator Mark Richt.

"I got excited about Florida State," Grossman said.

Then he and his family took unofficial visits to Florida and Florida State and the rest is history.

"I ended up falling in love with Florida," Grossman said. "I visited Florida State on my way back home, but there really wasn't a decision to make anymore. It was pretty obvious."

ONE LAST CHANCE: Only one player on the football roster has had the pleasure of being on the winning side in a Florida-Florida State game, sixth-year senior Zac Zedalis.

So, many of the underclassmen said they especially want to play well Saturday to ensure the seniors won't leave Gainesville with the legacy of never having beaten FSU.

"It's real important (to win Saturday)," senior strong safety Marquand Manuel said. "That's what we set as one of our goals was to win this game. All the sweat. All the preparations, week in and week out. The summer workouts. You think about all that.

"You'll never get this shot again. You never get it again. We've got to take advantage of it right now and come out ready to play."

CHAMPIONSHIP TIME: The soccer team begins its quest for a national championship at home this weekend. The Gators, who are hosting an NCAA region, play Central Florida at 5 p.m. Friday. In the tournament's first game, Miami plays Georgia at 2:30 p.m. The winners play at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Florida coach Becky Burleigh said she thinks the Gators are better prepared for the tournament this season. Last year they were upset in the first round.

"I think we've played an awful lot of people during the course of the year and that has given some people a chance to get some physical, as well as mental, rest."

Burleigh said the Gators welcome the home-field advantage.

"That's big," she said. "I guess as long as we keep winning, I think it's important to stay at home."

_ Antonya English covers Florida athletics. She can be reached at (813) 226-3389 or