Alabama and Florida face off for the 42nd time on Saturday, and we will find out how good both teams really are. Florida played Alabama closer than any other team last season and, like the Tide, brings back less than half of its starters. Saturday's game will be enlightening.
The two teams have played many high-stakes games during its rivalry, including 10 SEC Championship Games. Here are the five greatest contests.
5. Alabama 17, Florida 14
Oct. 24, 1964 — Tuscaloosa, Ala.
For the only meeting between Joe Namath and Steve Spurrier, both teams entered the game unbeaten and ranked in the top 10. Namath had to leave the game early because of knee issues, and Spurrier quarterbacked the team to a 14-7 advantage going into the fourth quarter. Alabama responded with 10 unanswered points to take the lead with 3:06 left in the game, but Spurrier led the Gators to the Crimson Tide's seven-yard line in the final seconds. There, Florida kicker James Hall's field goal petered to the right of the goal post as time expired. Alabama went on to win the national championship.
4. Florida 31, Alabama 20 (SEC Championship Game)
Dec. 6, 2008 — Atlanta
After going 7-6 in Nick Saban's first season, the Crimson Tide went 12-0 during the regular reason and entered the SEC Championship Game with the top ranking. Meanwhile, Tim Tebow and the Gators responded to an early-season loss to Ole Miss by beating the rest of their opponents by at least four touchdowns and were ranked No. 2. In a seesaw battle, Alabama led 20-17 going into the fourth quarter, but Florida scored two touchdowns in the final period, the last being a five-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper with less than three minutes to play to secure the win and the SEC title. The Gators then beat Oklahoma to win their second national championship in three seasons.
3. Florida 24, Alabama 23 (SEC Championship Game)
Dec. 3, 1994 — Atlanta
The Crimson Tide put together a workman-like perfect regular-season record but were seven-point underdogs to the 9-1-1 Gators in the SEC title game. Florida led 17-10 in the third quarter, but Alabama responded with two field goals and a 23-yard interception return for a touchdown by Dwayne Rudd to take a 22-17 fourth-quarter lead. Instead of going for two, head coach Gene Stallings opted for the extra point, which proved to be fatal. The Gators used a 20-yard lateral double pass from Danny Wuerffel to Chris Doering to Aubrey Hill to make it to the Crimson Tide's two-yard line and then scored a touchdown with 5:29 left. Then, Florida defensive Eddie Lake intercepted Jay Barker's pass with less than a minute to play to seal the win and end Alabama's national title hopes.
2. Alabama 28, Florida 21 (SEC Championship Game)
Dec. 5, 1992 — Birmingham, Ala.
In the first SEC Championship Game, undefeated Alabama's national title hopes appeared to be in jeopardy with the score tied 21-21 and Florida driving with a little over three minutes to play. Then, Crimson Tide cornerback Antonio Langham intercepted Shane Matthews' pass and returned it 27 yards for the win. Alabama then went on to throttle Miami in the Sugar Bowl to win the national championship.
1. Alabama 40, Florida 39
Oct. 2, 1999 — Gainesville, Fla.
The Gators had a 30-game win streak at The Swamp, and it looked like they would likely extend it, as they led 33-26 and forced Alabama to punt late in the game. However, Florida receiver Darrell Jackson dropped the return, and Crimson Tide running back Marvin Brown recovered the ball on the Gators' 22-yard line. Facing fourth down and two, Alabama running back Shaun Alexander broke free for a 13-yard touchdown run to tie the game. The teams traded touchdowns in overtime, but both kickers missed their extra point conversions. Fortunately for Crimson Tide kicker Chris Kemp, Florida cornerback Bennie Alexander jumped offsides, and he got another chance, which he converted. The two teams met again in the SEC Championship Game, with Alabama winning 34-7.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports' Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.