First of two for Gators, Tide?

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The first of two?

As Alabama and Florida get set to square off for the first time since 2006 in the regular season at Bryant-Denny Stadium, there’s already talk about this being a first act to a second meeting in December in the SEC championship game.

You’re never going to get a coach or player on either side to say so, but the reality is that the loser Saturday night is by no means out of the BCS national championship race.

Now, if somebody gets blown out Saturday, that could change things.

But if Florida loses a close one, wins out and then takes down Alabama in the SEC championship game rematch, the Gators would still be in great shape to claim one of those two spots in the BCS National Championship Game.

The same goes for Alabama if the Crimson Tide loses a close one and then wins out.

Still, the buildup to this game has rivaled that of the past two meetings between Alabama and Florida each of the last two seasons in the SEC championship game.

In a sense, it’s the rubber match.

But the one that counts the most could still be a few months away.