TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — University of Alabama coach Nick Saban always preaches a one-game-at-a-time focus with his players, but this week he won’t have to say anything in that regard.

Alabama opens Southeastern Conference play on Saturday when it hosts Florida (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS), the opponent its faced in all but one of the eight times its played in the league championships game.

“Games like this, players really get excited,” Saban said Monday afternoon. “If they don’t they don’t understand playing Alabama football and they don’t understand playing in the SEC.

“But I think we’ve got enough guys on our team that really understand that, so I don’t think that should be an issue. I also think that fans get excited, and I think it’s important that they create an atmosphere that’s going to help our team have the best chance to be successful in this game. Noise, energy, enthusiasm, all those things carry over in how we play.”

With Alabama having played at a neutral-site to open five of the lasts even seasons, there haven’t been too many marque-type games at Bryant-Denny Stadium over the past few years. Last year the Crimson Tide hosted LSU, and the year before Auburn and Texas A&M – although the Aggies weren’t billed that way until after they pulled off the 29-24 upset.

Although Florida isn’t ranked, the Gators are 2-0 and coming off a 36-30 triple-overtime victory against Kentucky.

“I think Florida has a really, really good team,” Saban continued. “Maybe a lot better team than what they’re ranked right now, because ratings right now don’t mean a lot.

“The new offensive coordinator (Kurt Roper) has definitely done a really good job with them in terms of what they’re doing offensively. They have some significant impact players back that were injured a year ago. The quarterback has played really well.

“The two running backs have played very, very well. No. 11 (Demarcus) Robinson, the receiver, is one of the top guys in the country. This is a much, much, much improved, very good offensive football team. Their offensive line is big and playing much better because they’ve got some continuity back there as well.

“Defensively, these guys always play really good on defense. They’re always one of the top teams in our conference when it comes to defense. Will does a good job on that part of it. They’ve got really good players and they play well together. They’ve got some really good specialists and returners that are explosive on special teams.

“This is a very good team.”

Florida is coming off a 4-8 season in which it lost its last seven games, including five to SEC opponents, but after having its opener against Idaho cancelled due to inclement weather pounded Eastern Michigan 65-0.

Regardless, with Florida led by former Saban assistant Will Muschamp this is one game you know the Gators had circled on the calendar, and the Crimson Tide did too.

“You always want to prepare for a game like it’s a Florida or an LSU or something, but going into SEC gets everyone excited,” senior tackle Austin Shepherd said. “This is kind of what you live for. This is why you came to Alabama, to play teams like this. It’s just more mental prep because you have to watch a lot of film because these guys have multiple things about them.”