It's a battle of SEC royalty at Tiger Stadium

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Before Florida and LSU get it on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium in one of the most anticipated matchups of the season, maybe they can sit down and compare whose crystal football that sits atop the last three BCS national championship trophies sparkles the brightest.

In the realm of college football, these two teams are as close to royalty as it gets.

They’ve carried the torch for the SEC nationally this decade and are a big reason this conference is recognized as the best conference in the land.

They’ve shared the last three BCS national championships, Florida in 2008 and 2006 and LSU in 2007.

The winner of this game the last three years has gone on to win the national championship, and these two teams are the only schools in the country with multiple BCS national titles. The Tigers also won in 2003 under Nick Saban.

Here’s another way to look at it: Four of the last six national championship celebrations have gone down in either Baton Rouge, La., or Gainesville, Fla.

“This is what you play for,” LSU running back Charles Scott said. “You have a little extra motivation for this game. It’s LSU and Florida, the top dogs in the SEC.

“There’s no hatred … just a lot of pride.”

About the only chink you can find in Florida’s armor since Urban Meyer arrived in 2005 is that the Gators have been ordinary against Western Division opponents in the regular season.

Florida is 6-6 against the West since 2005, losing both times at Tiger Stadium.

Keep in mind that Florida’s regular Western Division opponent just happens to be LSU.

“I’m not sure how the SEC figured out that we had to play LSU every year,” said Meyer, weighing in on the Gators’ struggles against the West. “We happen to get them when they’re loaded up real good with players. It’s a players’ game. Just watch what happens in the next five years, a bunch of those cats will be playing in the NFL and so will the Gators.

“This is two top-5 teams playing. I imagine we haven’t done really well against very talented teams.”

Meyer’s selling himself short there.

While this will be the Gators’ first game against a nationally ranked team this season (and only their second against a team with a winning record), Meyer is 17-5 against nationally ranked opponents at Florida, 10-2 against top-10 teams and 6-1 against top-5 teams.

And when he has more than a week to prepare for an opponent, he’s 28-3 during his career.

Of course, he’s done so this time not knowing if he’s going to have his record-setting quarterback, Tim Tebow.

As big as this game is, it’s not necessarily a death sentence for either team in terms of staying in the national championship race.

In fact, both teams would still control their own destiny in their divisional races even if they lose. Winning out would get them to Atlanta. And as both Florida and LSU have shown us in recent years, winning the SEC championship as a one-loss team (or even a two-loss team as LSU did in 2007) is still good enough to be right there in the mix when the final BCS standings are released in December.

Just don’t tell that to any of the participants in Saturday’s festivities.

“It’s going to be a nose-bleeding, smashmouth, backyard football game,” LSU offensive tackle Ciron Black said. “Everybody’s helmet is going to be scratched up. Everybody’s going to be sore. This is what we’ve all worked so hard for.

“If you can’t play for 60 minutes in a game like this, you shouldn’t be on the field.”