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December 8, 2009

SEC title lifts Saban to top of power rankings

Rivals.com Power Rankings by Position: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ST
Coaches Power Rankings: Head Coach | Off. Coordinator | Def. Coordinator

Alabama coach Nick Saban prepared his team for its SEC championship game showdown with Florida by invoking a reference to legendary boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, so it should come as no surprise that the Crimson Tide responded like a champion.

One year after losing 31-20 to Florida in the SEC title game, Alabama earned revenge with a 32-13 romp over the Gators. The triumph sent Alabama to the BCS championship game and helped Saban replace Florida's Urban Meyer as the top coach in the Rivals.com College Football Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top performers at each position.

"We really told the players a story about Sugar Ray Leonard,'' Saban said. "[He] actually said, 'The first time I fought in a championship fight, I lost. I prepared. I knew the strengths and weaknesses. I was in great shape. But the thing I remember about the second time I fought for the championship and won was I had an unrelenting, not-to-be-denied intangible attitude, and I was going to have to do it for 15 rounds and go toe to toe, and that's what made me win.'

"And I think there are a lot of examples out there of the way our players competed and played in the game that showed that kind of resiliency, and that's what it takes to be a champion.''

Alabama's victory over Florida caused plenty of other changes atop the power rankings.

The Tide's ability to score 32 points against the top-ranked defense in the nation helped make Alabama's Jim McElwain the new No. 1 offensive coordinator. McElwain moved ahead of Texas' Greg Davis, whose team produced its lowest point total of the season in a 13-12 Big 12 championship game win over Nebraska.

TCU's Dick Bumpas replaced Florida's Charlie Strong as the nation's No. 1 defensive coordinator. Florida entered the SEC championship game ranked first in the nation in total defense, but TCU took over the top spot after the Gators' loss.

The news wasn't all bad for the Gators.

Florida's Aaron Hernandez caught eight passes for 85 yards in the losing cause, which allowed him to replace BYU's Dennis Pitta as the nation's top tight end.

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, Stanford running back Toby Gerhart, Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate, Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain, Tennessee strong safety Eric Berry and Clemson kick returner C.J. Spiller remained atop their respective positions.

This represents the last regular-season edition of the power rankings. The final version will come out at the end of bowl season.

The ranking of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how he fared the previous week. The power rankings measure overall career performances as well as their most recent results. Our coordinator rankings exclude coordinators who don't call their own plays or signals.

Rivals.com Power Rankings by Position: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ST
Coaches Power Rankings: Head Coach | Off. Coordinator | Def. Coordinator

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.



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