- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2008

HE SAID WHAT?

“I would ask that his fans, the Giants and the media withhold judgment in this matter until all of the facts have been disclosed.” - Attorney Benjamin Brafman on client Plaxico Burress, who shot himself in the thigh Friday night

TAKE YOUR PICK; Who will win Saturday’s SEC championship game?

No. 1 Alabama - Under second-year coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide (12-0) have dominant lines, a power running game, the nation’s No. 3 total defense and an efficient if understated veteran quarterback, John Parker Wilson. Gene Stallings steered a remarkably similar group to the 1992 national title and a memorable Sugar Bowl demolition of heavily favored Miami.

No. 2 Florida - The Gators (11-1) are the flash to Alabama’s smash. Florida has the most impressive collection of speedy playmakers in the nation - on both sides of the ball - surrounding bullish quarterback Tim Tebow. Since a stunning 31-30 home loss to Mississippi on Sept. 27, the Gators have dismantled eight straight opponents by an average of 39.6 points.

Our take - In some respects, the similarities between this week’s collision and the 1993 Sugar Bowl are eerie. Though not to the extent of the Hurricanes of yore, this Florida team is loaded with precocious talent. The Gators are used to winning and winning big, and there’s some concern about how they might react in a dogfight. They will get one from Saban, who has cemented himself as the best big-game coach in the nation.

Courtesy of Saban’s smarts and Alabama’s edge in the trenches, this game won’t devolve into a blowout. Beyond pure speed and talent, two things make Florida special: Tebow and opportunism. When all else fails, the junior quarterback is capable of taking over games with his feet. In stark contrast to the 1992 Hurricanes, Florida is also one of the most disciplined teams in the country. The Gators lead the nation in turnover margin; if Alabama doesn’t win the turnover battle, a tall task officially becomes impossible. Expect a two-touchdown victory by the Gators.

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