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Showdown Saturday: Separating The Contenders From The Pretenders

Last week's upset of Oklahoma State over Texas A&M in College Station was just the latest version in what has almost become a Saturday ritual this college football season. Week one gave us #3 Oregon vs. #4 LSU, a game in which the Tigers sent last year's BCS runner up to the back of this year's bus and established LSU as a legitimate championship contender. Week two gave gave us Bama's blowout of Penn State to establish the Tide as a contender and the following week separated Oklahoma from Florida State on a #1 vs. #5 match-up.

With a list of Oregon, Penn State, Florida State and now Texas A&M on the outside looking in the list of pretenders is growing. Two massive showdowns this weekend will no doubt add to it though.   

#3 Alabama (4-0,1-0) at #12 Florida (4-0,2-0)

Alabama_medium Florida_medium

The top team in the west travels to take on the top team in the east on the first of many SEC Showdown Saturdays. The last time these two teams hooked up it was a 31-6 blowout for the Tide which gives Florida a little motivation to seek revenge in their own back yard.

There are so many factors that potentially make this a great game. The Gators are tops in the SEC when it comes to rushing the ball (259 YPG) with the Tide right behind them in second (231 YPG). On the other side of the ball its Alabama with a slight defensive edge against the rush. The Tide boast college football's third best rush defense (46 YPG) but there's Florida sitting at #5 nationally (56 YPG).
"Their strength as a team has been their ability to run the ball and consistently make big plays running the ball. Even though it's a little bit different style, they're still featuring the same players doing things that they're very, very good at, which is making plays in space, running the ball on the perimeter, and making it difficult for you to match up." - Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban  
This is going to be your classic SEC slug fist, full of slobber-knocking hits and a stingy defense. Field position is going to be critical and turnovers more costly than normal. I've got the Tide winning a close one. 

Alabama 24
Florida     21

#8 Nebraska (4-0) vs. #7 Wisconsin (4-0)
Nebraska_medium Wisconsin_medium
Nebraska heads into Madison for their first ever Big 10 conference game and it couldn't be bigger. Much like the SEC battle this game has the two division leaders squaring off against each other with the winner being on the inside track to a BCS championship birth. 

As far as expectations go you would have to give Wisconsin the nod for best non-conference performance. The Badgers are winning their games by an average score of 49-9 and have a potential Heisman candidate in quarterback Russell Wilson

Nebraska wanted the Big Ten and now they've got it. This is their first moment in the conference limelight. I just hope they're ready for Camp Randall at night. I'm not sure they are but the good news is that they'll most likely get another shot at Wisconsin in the conference championship game. 

Wisconsin 38
Nebraska  27