TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - This Florida-Alabama game is not all or nothing, title shot or title shutout.
None of the possibilities or dreams really go away if the top-ranked Crimson Tide or seventh-ranked Gators lose Saturday in the rematch from the last two Southeastern Conference championship games. Just a midseason setback, especially since they don't play in the same division.
This is a rivalry game not because of long history, but because of the recent variety. It matches the SEC's two dominant teams over the last few years, so does it really matter if the calendar is just creeping into October?
"It's definitely one of the most anticipated games of my career," Florida defensive end Justin Trattou said Monday. "It's definitely one of the most anticipated games in the country. I'm real excited to get into it."
The loser won't be left in tears this time, unlike the December meetings. Florida won the SEC in 2008 and Alabama won it last season. Both went on to win the national championship.
"Ever since that game, it's unexplainable. I wanted it back so bad," Florida linebacker Brandon Hicks said of last December's meeting. "That game hurt so bad because we felt we were good enough, we had the team to win, but we didn't execute everything that we were supposed to and we took it on ourselves that our preparation wasn't right."
This time there could very well be Florida-Alabama II in a couple of months at the Georgia Dome.
"I just remember the year they beat us," Tide tailback Mark Ingram said. "All we could think about for an entire year was getting back to that game and playing them again. I'm sure they have the same type of attitude since we beat them. They don't have to wait until the SEC championship. We have them halfway through the season. It's going to be a real intense game."
Gators coach Urban Meyer said his staff even discussed having a week in training camp devoted to Alabama "until I looked on the film and I saw how poor we were. To start worrying about Alabama, we better just figure out a way to catch the ball, put it away and not fumble."
Both teams are 4-0. Florida has played two league games and Alabama one, last weekend at No. 15 Arkansas.