GAINESVILLE, FLA. (AP) - Florida and Alabama have regular-season winning streaks that most programs only dream about.
They have trophy cases dedicated to Southeastern Conference championships, national titles and individual awards. They lose talented players every year to the NFL, but seemingly plug in the next guy without missing a beat.
They have high-profile coaches who scour the country for top talent, focus their energy on winning and rarely slow down unless it’s to take on unscrupulous agents.
Everyone else is chasing them, too.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0) and the seventh-ranked Gators (4-0, 2-0) are the envy of the SEC. Alabama has won 28 straight regular-season games, and Florida’s streak sits at 24.
Here’s the good news for the rest of the league: One of them will stumble Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Here’s the bad: Neither powerhouse appears ready to relinquish its spot atop the SEC _ or the national scene _ any time soon.
“We both want to be considered that top program,” Florida cornerback Jeremy Brown said. “Every time we play each other, and from here on out, it’s going to be, ‘Who’s No. 1.’ They’re a great team, well coached, their players are very talented. It’s almost like looking in a mirror. They have everything we have.”
Alabama took everything Florida wanted last season. The Tide upset the Gators in the 2009 SEC title game, ruining Florida’s bid for a perfect season, a second straight conference title and a third national championship in four years.
Even though most of Florida’s key players have moved on following that 32-13 loss in Atlanta, the Gators haven’t forgotten.
“Any loss hurts, but when you lose for a championship, it’s more devastating,” center Mike Pouncey said.
The Gators aren’t going to get much sympathy from anyone else in the league or around the country. After all, they are 61-10 under coach Urban Meyer, including 15-1 against rivals Tennessee, Georgia and Florida State.
“The thing they have over every other team in the country at this point is talent and experience,” said Meyer, who landed the nation’s top recruiting class in February and has played more freshmen than anyone in the country this season. “So they would plus us a little bit at experience right now, but as far as talent, I kind of like where our team’s headed.”
The SEC has seen runs like this before (Alabama in the 1960s and 70s, and Alabama and Florida in the early 1990s), so it’s nothing new. But it’s anyone’s guess how long it will last.
“It’s not all that uncommon,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “It’s happened from time to time. It’s not like it’s never happened before, but it usually doesn’t last forever. The job that Nick and Urban are doing right now and the momentum that they’ve created through it when it comes to recruiting and everything else, you sit there and go it’s going to be tough.