- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This Florida-Alabama game might just be Round 1 for the seventh-ranked Gators and top-ranked Crimson Tide.

The last two seasons Florida and Alabama have met in the Southeastern Conference championship game, both times with a trip to the national title game on the line. Both times the winner went on to win it all.

Now for the first time since 2006, Florida and Alabama will meet in the regular season Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.

“It’s definitely one of the most anticipated games in the country,” Florida defensive lineman Justin Trattou said.

While it’s sure to be intense and the loser will have to move toward the back of the line in the national title chase, don’t dare call it an elimination game.

The Gators have been getting better every week after a sluggish start, but still look like the team to beat in the SEC East. And that won’t change if they leave Tuscaloosa with their first regular-season loss since Tim Tebow came up short against Mississippi in 2009.

The Tide is coming off a 24-20 comeback victory against West-rival Arkansas and look every bit like a team worthy of being No. 1.

If the loser Saturday night goes on to win the SEC championship without losing another game, it might be hard to keep that team out of the BCS title game _ no matter how many undefeated teams there are around the country.

Gators-Tide is one of five games Saturday matching ranked teams. Sharing top billing with UF-‘Bama is No. 9 Stanford at No. 4 Oregon.

The winner between the Cardinal and Ducks should emerge as the Pac-10 favorite, though Southern California and Arizona might have a lot to say about that before the season is over.

Stanford was the only conference foe to beat Oregon last season, winning a shootout 52-41 in northern California.

The picks:


No. 7 Florida (plus 9) at No. 1 Alabama

Gators not ready to beat Tide _ yet … ALABAMA 28-17.

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