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20/20 Hindsight: Alabama vs Florida

Alrighty kids, gird yourself for this one. Just about everybody had something to say about this game and I've done my best to find all the key ones you'll be wanting to read this fine fine Sunday morning.

A year of frustration for the Crimson Tide played out in 60 minutes and a much-anticipated game that was far more lopsided than anyone could have expected.

Gentry Estes | The Press Register

Alabama took everything in a 32-13 shredding in the SEC title game. The 1-2 rematch at the Georgia Dome was no match at all. Alabama, the only unbeaten team to leave the field, played like it had counted the hours since it lost to Florida last season and manhandled this moment. Florida goals, dreams, everything, went out with the Tide

Martin Fennelly | The Tampa Tribune

Last year, the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship Game is where, for all intents and purposes, this team's season ended. This time, it felt like the moment when the new season finally began.

Ray Melick | The Birmingham News

When it was over, there were a range of emotions. Nick Saban, the no-nonsense, process-oriented coach who needed only three years to bring Alabama all the way back from a miserable era, looked totally out of character as he leaped up to bump shoulders with Ingram on the sideline. Tebow found himself in an unusual position, too: sitting on the bench and appearing to wipe away tears as the clock ran out.

Paul Newberry | The Associated Press

It's tempting with a game like this to try to find something profound to say, some secret or unnoticed reason for an outcome that few expected. But there's nothing like that in this game. The better team won.

Cocknfire |Team Speed Kills

There would be no fourth-quarter rally this time, either. No muscle flexes, sideline dashes or screaming fits could save the Gators' 22-game winning streak. The second-ranked Crimson Tide turned their long-anticipated SEC Championship Game rematch with No. 1 Florida into a three-and-a-half hour bludgeoning, punching their ticket to the BCS National Championship Game with a stunning 32-13 rout.

If somebody were smart, they would organize a coaching clinic, turn on this game video and leave the room.
Ivan Maisel | ESPN

What struck me most was how much this game resembled the Sugar Bowl beatdown of Miami that clinched the Tide's last national championship in 1992... McElroy's superbly cool effort on the biggest stage enshrines him right alongside '92 hero Jay Barker in the Tide Hall of Just Winners, and Mark Ingram's powerful presence out of the backfield confirms this as the best Tide offense in recently memory -- certainly far beyond the '92 bunch if hopes to officially emulate in Pasadena.

Matt Hinton | Yahoo! Sports

All year the University of Alabama football team has had a mantra. The Crimson Tide is a team that thrives on finishing games in the fourth quarter. But on Saturday, on the biggest stage of the season so far, it didn’t even have to. Alabama essentially put Florida away with a dominating drive that consumed most of the third quarter.

Gentry Estes | The Tuscaloosa News

From the get-go, Florida's defensive strategy seemed simple: load the box, stop Ingram and make McElroy beat them. That went out the window in the first drive, when Saban put his quarterback alone in the backfield and spread receivers wide on both sides. By the time defensive coordinator Charlie Strong adjusted, Florida was playing catch-up.

Steve Eubanks | FoxSportss

The long winning streak is over. So is the chance for the Florida Gators to script a storybook ending for the most successful senior class in SEC history. The Heisman Trophy? Gone, too. It was all washed away Saturday, swept up by the rising Tide. A tenacious, relentless, overwhelming Tide.

Robbie Andreu | The Gainesville Herald Tribune

It’s hard to argue with anything the Crimson Tide did up front Saturday. They mauled a Florida defense that hadn’t given up much of anything this season and rolled up 251 rushing yards. Quarterback Greg McElroy had plenty of time to throw most of the game and was only sacked once. In the second half, it was obvious that Alabama was exerting its will against a Florida defense that lost its stinger.

Chris Low | ESPN

Ultimately, the loss can be attributed to Florida’s startling deficiencies on defense. The Gators’ usually dominant defense left the game humbled, listening to Alabama fans singing their trademark cheer, "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer," with voices raspy from a long day of cheering.Now, the Tide will move on to Pasadena for a shot at another national title. In football-crazed Alabama, it will mark a return to order in the football universe.

Pete Thamel | The New York Times

The Crimson Tide came to Atlanta prepared for a 15-round heavyweight fight, and for a while in the first half it appeared that's what it was going to get. Ultimately, what it got was a 10th-round TKO. The Gators, who delivered the knockout punch in the fourth quarter here last year, had nothing left for the final period this time.

Mike Herndon | The Press Register

Either way, this was the biggest game on the face of the earth, and Alabama lived up to the challenge and the hype and the pressure, ending big, bad Florida’s 22-game winning streak. Oh, and their shot at three national championships in four years. Icing on the cake.

Mike Szvetitz | The Opelika Auburn News

It was only two years ago when the Crimson Tide lost to Louisiana Monroe. It wasn’t long ago when Nick Saban was handed a 10-year, 10-pound bag of misery and asked to do something that recent predecessors couldn’t come close to achieving: return a once-historic, suddenly lampooned program to the top... Saban just completed the cleansing faster than anybody could have imagined.

Jeff Schultz | The Atlanta Journal Constitution

The Perfect Game - 1 vs. 2, 12-0 vs. 12-0 - was going to be won by the team with the better passer. Everybody knew it. Everybody was right. They just had the quarterback wrong, that's all.

Greg Cote | McClatchy Newspapers

This was a Saban special, a game won with discipline and defense, with straight power football and big players in position to make the big plays. The guy may not display much of a public personality (flying hip bumps aside) but if you need a winner, there isn’t anyone better on the college sidelines.

Dan Wetzel | Yahoo! Sports

A Tide Nation that had just about turned blue from holding its breath between championships can exhale. Three years after Nick Saban was hired and 17 years after their last national title, 'Bama is at the top again. And by top we a mean a victory that was considered the de facto national title game anyway.

Dennis Dodd | CBS Sports

About an hour after Saturday's SEC Championship game ended, about a half-dozen Georgia Dome workers went over the artificial turf with heavy-bristle brooms and buckets of water and cleaning solution. Maybe they were trying to clean up what was left of Florida. Alabama didn't leave much behind.

Mark Edwards | The Muscle Shoals Times Daily

The scene was almost surreal. Surely Florida, with its historic 22-game winning streak, wouldn’t drown in the sorrows of another team’s dominant performance. Besides, Tebow even gave a team-wide pep talk before the fourth quarter. But Florida's run was over by 4:30 p.m. today. Alabama barreled through the Gators defense from the first drive and never relented in a 32-13 win.

Jeremy Fowler | The Orlando Sentinel

For Alabama, the victory silenced critics who suggested this year’s team is perhaps not that great. Coming off their most impressive victory the year should make the Tide favorites to win their first national championship in 17 seasons.

Mark Blaudschun | The Boston Globe

In a way,  it was the biggest victory of Saban's career,  bigger than the national championship and the two SEC championships he won at LSU. Why? Because it was the kind of victory that lifted the Crimson Tide above its most serious challenger inside the toughest conference in the country,  and it came at a time the landscape suggests Alabama and Florida will be playing for many more SEC titles down the line.

Jeremy Fowler | The Times Picayune

On this Saturday in the biggest game in SEC football history, Florida never had a chance. Alabama looked bigger, stronger and faster. They ran harder and blocked better. To say they tackled better would be like saying Jennifer Anniston is better looking than Susan Boyle.

Pat Dooley | The Gainsville Sun

Saturday was a rematch of last year’s SEC championship game, but so little of the performance resembled the collapse Alabama endured a year ago. This year was about redemption, but more than that, it was about dominance.

David Hale | The Ledger Enquirer

The Crimson Tide proved once and for all that winning streaks and winning promises – even those made by Tim Tebow -- are made to be broken.

Mike Bianchi | The Miami Herald

One of the many eras of Alabama football -- call it the Decade of Dreck -- is done. That died definitively Saturday night on the floor of the Georgia Dome, in the most satisfying kind of way for those who longed for an old king's comeback. ‘Bama supplanted the young, new-age ruler, Florida 32-13 in a SEC Championship game that went from epic showdown to tiresome rout in about 40 minutes of football. Or Alabama just plain planted the Gators, more like it.

Steve Hummer | The Atlanta Journal Constitution

For nearly 40 minutes of this SEC championship game, Tim Tebow stood helplessly on the Florida sideline with a headset on. That was the most telling picture of how the Gators’ perfect season disintegrated in stunning fashion. Their national title dreams were totally blown up by a dominant Alabama offensive line, along with an inexperienced quarterback many doubted could outduel Superman in the biggest game of their lives.

Gene Frenette | The Florida Times Union

The idea of SEC exceptionalism has applied to Florida for long enough; now, Alabama, behind its hard-nosed, perfectionist coach, Nick Saban, and brilliance in all facets, will take up the mantle for the near future, coupling new-school SEC dominance with the tradition of the conference's most revered powerhouse.

Andy Hutchins | The Sporting News

From opening kickoff to closing ticks, the Crimson Tide outcoached and outplayed the Gators, and the final 32-13 score reflected that.Goodness, had Florida kicked another field goal and Alabama successfully converted that first-quarter extra point it missed, Tim Tebow's John 16:33 eye black would've been both Biblical and prophetic.

Peter Kerasotis | The Fort Meyers News Press

As always, please post links to any others you might find in the comments and I'll update this throughout the morning...