People in my generation, even if they were not fans of boxing for a number of different reasons, recall the famous fights between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. I was actually invited to see the most famous fight on a closed-circuit broadcast in a Chicago area theater. I will always remember the electricity and emotion of that evening. It is a part of sport's legend in my lifetime.
The Alabama vs. Florida SEC Championship game today (3 p.m. CST)
on CBS has been called, by analyst and former-star quarterback Gary Danielson, "Frazier vs. Ali" in college football. This may be hype to amp up the ratings for CBS but it rings true for me as a fan of the game and a die-hard Crimson Tide fan. How could you get so much in one game? A conference championship game between the top two teams in America and the winner advances to the January 8 Fed Ex BCS Bowl Championship game no debate. Verne Lundquist, the 68-year old announcer for this game, says: "I've been around this thing for a long, long time and this is the biggest college football game I've ever been a part of." All such hype aside this should be a great game. Or could it be a dud? Florida is so powerful and balanced that some think they will kill Alabama, who (it is argued) played weak teams all year. Florida destroyed teams Alabama struggled with at times.
The Florida offense is more impressive, especially with Tim Tebow, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, at quarterback. Tebow, by the way, is a marvelous young man and a devoted Christian whose parents are missionaries. Danielson says the SEC offenses are down this year and thus the defenses are much better. Florida has been more impressive in how it has handled the SEC than Alabama. But what makes this game so interesting to real fans is the clash of styles. It is "new school" vs. "old school." It is Meyer vs. Saban. It is innovation vs. hard nosed grind it out power football. Danielson adds, "This is pretty (Florida) vs. ugly (Alabama), or new spread vs. old." He adds, "This is a must-watch game for a college football fan." I agree. But as a Tide fan I will suffer a little until the ebb and flow of this gets rolling. Then I will settle in and hope that we hang around for three quarters so that we can finish strong with a great offensive line and running game finishing it off. Florida will seek to strike early and often. Stopping this quick strike force will be crucial to Alabama's chances.
The odds-makers had Florida a 10 point favorite earlier this week.
Not once this season has Florida not beaten the odds except for their one loss, to Ole Miss, a team that Alabama beat two weeks later. Florida has the fun offense and the great flash. Alabama has the "no-name" defense led by a walk-on All-American named Rayshad Johnson and a huge nose tackle named "Mt. Cody." It will be fun.
If you love this game you will enjoy this day. I will, even if my team loses. But if they win, well I am one very happy Crimson Tide man looking for some way to get to Miami on January 8th.