Countdown to the SEC Championship Game at 4. Here's how I see it:
Florida's defense -- even without Carlos Dunlap -- is better than the defense that held Alabama to 20 points a year ago.
Florida's offense -- even with its issues this year -- is better than the offense that put up 31 points on Alabama a year ago.
(Consider: Percy Harvin wasn't available a year ago. Louis Murphy is gone, but Riley Cooper is every bit the money WR. Aaron Hernandez is better than a year ago. Demps is better than a year ago. Moody wasn't a factor a year ago. Rainey wasn't available a year ago. The O-line isn't quite as good as a year ago, but the returning players from last year are better.)
All season long, I have been basing my Florida picks on their best-of-the-decade D. While the absence of Carlos Dunlap WILL hurt -- dammit -- he might be worth, say, 7 points (which, statistically, would actually be on the high end). I'm going to say that at full strength, Florida was going to hold Alabama to 10-15 points. Without Dunlap, they will hold them to 20-25.
And while Alabama's defense is very very good -- not as good as Florida's but certainly better than anyone else in the country (except, perhaps, TCU) -- there is no reason to think that Florida won't be able to score 20-30 points.
What does that point to? A very close game, even closer than last year. I'm going to say Florida 27, Alabama 20.
Regardless of outcome, you're going to want to check back here during and after the game for what will undoubtedly be some sort of emotional roller-coaster display by me.
More topics on the agenda today:
*Texas will beat Nebraska and make the BCS title game.
*That doesn't mean Texas is better than TCU.
*I'm presuming Cincy beats Pitt. But you never know.
*Nets win! Nets win! Nets win! (So did the Knicks! WTF is happening?!)
*Damn, what a shot by Kobe.
*Credit the Mariners for spending to get better: Chone Figgins
*What does that mean for the Angels' offseason planning?
*Notre Dame opting out of a bowl is a joke. What a bunch of losers.
*Move over Tebow: Dan LeFevour wants his own record -- all-time TD record for combined passing, rushing and receiving. Congrats, Tebow Lite!
Finally: The World Cup draw. I'm with everyone else -- The US got a favorable draw.
Here's the unintended consequence: The expectation now is clear -- get to the knock-out round or else. Or else what? Or else the US system is an utter failure and US Soccer's leadership should be dismantled.
I need to continue distracting myself until 4: GameDay at 10 from Atlanta (SEC love-fest), the UNC-Kentucky game (12:30-3), CBS pre-game show (3-4 pm).
Enjoy the game... sorry: The Game. I was pretty confident all week -- all season, actually. Now, I'm starting to get nervous. It's a good feeling, actually. This is where "Championship or Failure" expectations really kick in and create an emotional freak-out that makes it all worth it.