2008 SEC Championship Game: Alabama vs. Florida
Dec. 1, 2008
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (12-0) vs. FLORIDA GATORS (11-1)
SATURDAY'S GAME: The University of Alabama football team returns to the Southeastern Conference Championship Game for the first time since its last SEC Championship in 1999. The top-ranked Crimson Tide host No. 2 Florida in the 40th meeting between the Associated Press' No. 1 and No. 2 teams. The game is slated for a 3 p.m. (CST) kickoff in Atlanta's Georgia Dome on Saturday, Dec. 6. The game will be televised nationally by CBS with Verne Lundquist (play-by-play), Gary Danielson (color analyst) and Tracy Wolfson (sideline) calling the action. The Gators are 11-1 on the season and champions of the SEC's Eastern Division with a 7-1 league record.
HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his second season with the Crimson Tide. He was named the school's 27th head coach on Jan. 3, 2007. Saban has compiled a 110-48-1 (.695) record as a collegiate head coach, including an 19-6 (.760) mark at Alabama and a 12-0 record in 2008. He captured his 100th career victory in week two against Tulane and coached his 150th game as a collegiate head coach in week three vs. Western Kentucky. Saban led LSU to a 13-1 record and the BCS National Championship in 2003. Overall, Saban has coached three conference championship teams (1990 Mid-American, 2001 SEC and 2003 SEC) and nine of his 12 teams have played in post-season bowl games and his 2008 team is qualified for a bowl. Saban is the only current Football Bowl Subdivision coach to coach for at least 10 years and have never suffered a losing season. For more information on Coach Saban, please see pages 16-17 of this notes package.
RANKINGS: Alabama remains No. 1 in this week's Associated Press poll and USA Today Coaches poll after the Crimson Tide recorded a 36-0 shutout of Auburn at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Tide also held their top spot in the Bowl Championship Series standings and the Harris Poll. Alabama's current stint at No. 1 in the Associated Press football poll is the first since the final AP poll of the 1992 season after the Crimson Tide knocked off Miami 34-13 in the 1993 Sugar Bowl. The last time the Crimson Tide was ranked atop the AP poll during the regular season (prior to the LSU game) was the ninth week (Oct. 26-Nov. 1) of the 1980 regular season. UA has a 22-5 (.815) all-time record as the nation's top-ranked team.
FLORIDA SERIES: The Alabama Crimson Tide and Florida Gators will be meeting for the 35th time with the Crimson Tide holding a 21-13 edge in the series. Alabama and Florida will be meeting for the sixth time in the SEC Championship Game with the Gators holding a 3-2 lead in the previous five meetings. Alabama earned SEC Championships with wins over Florida in 1992 and 1999. Florida beat Alabama in 1993, 1994 and 1996 for the SEC Championship. The Crimson Tide and Gators have not played since the 2006 season when Florida posted a 28-13 win on Oct. 1 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville.
NO. 1 VERSUS NO. 2 MATCHUPS: The 2008 SEC Championship Game will mark the 40th time since the inception of the Associated Press football poll in 1936 that the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams have met. Alabama is ranked No. 1 in the latest AP poll, while Florida is ranked No. 2. The two teams have met 22 times during the regular season and 17 times in bowl games. The Alabama-Florida game will be the first No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in a conference championship game. The No. 1 ranked team owns a 23-15-1 all-time record in these matchups. Alabama is playing in its fourth No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup and its first since the 1993 Sugar Bowl. Alabama is 2-1 in its previous three games matching No. 1 vs. No. 2 with wins over Penn State (1979 Sugar Bowl) and Miami (1993 Sugar Bowl) and a loss to Nebraska (1972 Orange Bowl).
NO. 1 VERSUS NO. 2 SAME CONFERENCE: The 2008 SEC Championship Game marks the sixth time that teams from the same conference have played each other when ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the AP poll. The last time it occurred was Nov. 18, 2006, when No. 1 Ohio State defeated No. 2 Michigan 42-39 in Columbus. The top-ranked team is 4-1 in the previous five No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups. The Alabama-Florida game marks the first time in SEC history that teams have played one another when ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the AP poll.
ASSOCIATED PRESS ALL-TIME NO. 1 VERSUS NO. 2 MATCHUPS (Same Conference)
ALABAMA SEEKS 22ND SEC CHAMPIONSHIP: Alabama seeks its SEC leading 22nd conference championship when the Crimson Tide meets the Florida Gators in the 2008 SEC Championship Game. The Crimson Tide has more SEC Championships than any other school and is seeking its first league title since 1999. Alabama won the first SEC Championship during the 1933 season as Coach Frank Thomas led the Crimson Tide to 5-0-1 conference record. The lone blemish on the schedule was a scoreless tie with Mississippi on Oct. 7, 1933, which was the first SEC game in school history. Thomas led Alabama to four SEC Championships. Legendary Alabama coach Paul Bryant directed the Crimson Tide to six national championships and 13 SEC titles during his 25-year run in Tuscaloosa. Alabama won five straight SEC Championships from 1971-75 and captured eight of the 10 SEC Championships from 1970-79. In addition to Thomas and Bryant, Alabama has had four other coaches win SEC Championships, including Harold "Red" Drew (1953), Bill Curry (1989), Gene Stallings (1992) and Mike DuBose (1999). In addition to its 21 SEC Championships, Alabama has also won four Southern Conference titles (1924, 1925, 1926 and 1930), giving the school 25 conference football championships.
ALABAMA MAKES SIXTH SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME APPEARANCE: Alabama will be playing in its sixth SEC Championship Game as the 2008 SEC Western Division champion. The Crimson Tide won the 2008 SEC Western Division title with a perfect 8-0 league record, tying the school mark for conference wins in a season. Alabama also won SEC Western Division Championships in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1999. Florida has been Alabama's opponent in all five of the Tide's previous SEC Championship Game appearances. In 1992, Alabama defeated Florida, 28-21, in the inaugural SEC Championship Game at Birmingham's Legion Field. Antonio Langham's 27-yard interception return with 3:16 left in the game lifted the Crimson Tide to victory. Langham was voted the game's Most Valuable Player. Alabama lost to Florida in 1993, 1994 and 1996, with the last two games played in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. In 1999, Freddie Milons earned MVP honors, leading the Tide to a 34-7 win over the Gators. Milons rushed six times for 117 yards, including a 77-yard game-clinching touchdown in the third quarter.
Alabama's SEC Championship Game Appearances
ALABAMA LEADS SEC WEST IN ALL-TIME CHAMPIONSHIP GAME APPEARANCES: With its sixth SEC Championship Game appearance this season, Alabama has played in more title games than any other Western Division team. LSU is second on the list with four appearances, followed by Arkansas and Auburn with three each and Mississippi State has one appearance. Overall, Alabama's six appearances rank second all-time to Florida, who is making its ninth appearance in this year's game. Alabama and Florida have accounted for 15 of the 36 championship game appearances. Tennessee ranks third in all-time appearances with five. Georgia has three appearances and is the only other SEC Eastern Division to play in the game.
All-Time Championship Game Appearances
UA SETS RECORD FOR REGULAR SEASON WINS: The Crimson Tide's 12 regular season wins sets an Alabama record for most victories in the regular season. The Tide won 11 regular season games in 1992 and then captured the SEC Championship for win No. 12 and the national title in the Sugar Bowl for win No. 13. The 2008 squad is the seventh Alabama team to win at least 11 regular season games and the first since 1994. The other UA teams to win at least 11 regular season games are 1971 (11-0), 1973 (11-0), 1974 (11-0), 1979 (11-0), 1992 (11-0) and 1994 (11-0). A total of 12 Alabama teams have won 10 regular season games, most recently in 2002 (10-3).
Most Regular Season Wins
12-WINS ARE SECOND MOST IN A SEASON: With its current 12-0 record, Alabama is currently tied for second place in school history for most wins in a single-season. The 2008 squad is the third in school history to win 12 games, joining the 1979 and 1994 teams. The school record for wins is 13 set in 1992.
Most Wins (All Games)
TIDE WINS 13TH STRAIGHT: Alabama has reeled off 13 consecutive wins dating back to last year's win over Colorado in the Independence Bowl. The Crimson Tide's winning streak is tied for the longest in the nation with Utah's 13-game streak.
Current winning streaks:
SABAN BRINGS SECOND TEAM TO ATLANTA: Alabama head coach Nick Saban is the only coach in SEC history to bring two teams to the SEC Championship Game. In addition to his appearance with Alabama this season, Saban brought LSU in 2001 and 2003. He is 2-0 in SEC Championship Games, leading LSU to wins over Tennessee, 31-20, in 2001, and Georgia, 34-13, in 2003. Saban is also the third different Alabama coach to lead the Crimson Tide into the SEC Championship Game, joining Gene Stallings (1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996) and Mike DuBose (1999). Florida (Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer) and LSU (Saban and Les Miles) are the only other schools to have more than one coach win the SEC Championship Game.
SABAN REACHES 12-0 FOR FIRST TIME: Nick Saban moved to 12-0 for the first time in his head coaching career with last week's win against Auburn. Saban had fielded two teams that reached 6-0 and two teams that reached 5-0. His 1990 team at Toledo posted wins in the first six games before falling at Central Michigan 13-12 and then his 1999 team at Michigan State went 6-0 before a 19-17 loss at Northwestern. Saban's 1997 Michigan State and 2003 LSU squads started the year at 5-0.
Year Start Team
SABAN SETS YEAR TWO RECORD: Alabama head coach Nick Saban has guided the Crimson Tide to a No. 1 national ranking and 12-0 record this season. That is an improvement of five wins over last year's 7-6 record. With his win over Auburn, Saban set the school record for largest increase in wins from year one to year two. The record was held by W.B. Blount (1903-04) and Gene Stallings (1990-91), who won four more games in their second year with the Crimson Tide than in year one. Blount went from three wins in 1903 to seven wins in 1904, while Stallings saw an increase from seven wins in 1990 to 11 wins in 1991.
BEST COACHING STARTS: Saban has compiled a 19-6 (.760) record in his career with the Crimson Tide and the 19 wins rank in a tie for the fourth-most for any Crimson Tide head football coach after 25 games. Gene Stallings and J.W.H. Pollard also posted 19 wins through their first 25 games with the Crimson Tide. Xen Scott holds the record for most wins after 25 games, with 22 victories. Wallace Wade is second with 21 wins through 25 games with Frank Thomas third with 20 wins in 25 games. Below are the most wins by Alabama coaches after the first 25 games in their career.
Most Wins (After 25 Games)
NEXT GAME: Next up for the Crimson Tide is a NCAA-record 56th bowl game appearance. Bowl Championship Series and bowl game announcements will be made on the evening of Sunday, Dec. 7.