It used to be that whenever Florida and Alabama played football, the whole SEC and even the entire nation would take notice. The Gators and the Tide played each other in the first three SEC Championship Games and four of the first five; since then, they've played each other three times, including back-to-back in 2008 and 2009. Between the two programs have 18 appearances in the title event, while the rest of the conference has 26 combined appearances. In 2010, before the total collapse of the Urban Meyer regime, the game between the two was one of the most anticipated match-ups of the regular season.
But this game feels a lot smaller. Not insignificant, of course -- Alabama is still a legitimate national-title contender, and while Florida isn't as highly regarded now as it was before a poor outing against Kentucky, the Gators are still undefeated and as real a threat as anyone else to win the SEC East. If for no other reason than their talent, you can't count either of them out as a major factor in the national picture.
It's just that it's hard to quibble too much with the 14-point line. Yes, Vernon Hargreaves III is going to challenge Amari Cooper. Yes, Alabama looked flat against West Virginia and hasn't played anyone since that truly gives us an idea of how good the Crimson Tide can be. And yes, the triple-overtime game against Kentucky could just be a blip in an otherwise great year for Florida.
Alabama just hasn't given us that much room to doubt them -- certainly not as much room as Florida has. The game is in Tuscaloosa, and Florida doesn't have the type of offense that has given the Tide fits over the last few years. Blake Sims looks like a perfectly serviceable quarterback, maybe even a good one, and the Tide's stable of running backs is still churning out 270.3 yards a game. Even when you account for the underwhelming opposition, it's a stretch to see the Gators going into Bryant-Denny Stadium and emerging with a win.
If Florida does spring the upset, or even comes close, then we can look back at this and say that it could prove to be one of the more important games of the season. It's just not there yet. Perhaps in a few hours it will be.
Game Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: CBSSports.com
Brandon's prediction: Alabama 34, Florida 20