Alabama has done all it could do to be ranked first in the nation, but the Crimson Tide is only number two. The top spot is held by LSU. On Saturday, Bama will host the Fighting Tigers in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. CDT with CBS televising the game.
Alabama is 8-0, including 5-0 in Southeastern Conference games, and has defeated three ranked teams -- Penn State, Arkansas, and Florida. LSU is also 8-0 and 5-0 and has defeated five ranked teams -- Oregon, West Virginia, Mississippi State, Florida, and Auburn.
“It is an opportunity that our players have created for themselves by what they’ve done,” Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban said. “They should look at this game as an opportunity for them to accomplish some of the goals and aspirations that they’ve set up for themselves early in the season.”
The game is being billed as at least a play-in game to the BCS National Championship Game, and perhaps the de facto national title game.
Saban said, “Every game is important, so every game we prepare for in a way that is most beneficial to our players being the best players they can be, most prepared that they can be. When you look at games like this, most of the time things come down to how you execute, what kind of fundamentals you play with, how many mental errors you make, how you take care of the ball, how many turnovers do you make.”
But, Saban said, that shouldn’t mean extra pressure for the players.
“I don’t think any player needs to feel like he needs to do anything different or special,” Saban said. “They just need to do their jobs with tremendous effort, tremendous toughness, and a lot of discipline; execute so that their particular unit has the best opportunity.”
Saban reiterated his respect for LSU, calling them “very good for a reason.”
He said, “These are two good teams. This game for the last four years has had significance in our division, our conference, and, in some cases, on a national level. I think everybody is aware of that, and that is not something that I think you use in how you prepare.”
Saban noted that LSU Coach “Les Miles has done a fabulous job there of not only recruiting a lot of talented players, but also doing a very good job of developing those players.
“They are very, very good, and it doesn’t take long to see why they are undefeated.” Saban pointed to balance and strength on offense, using two quarterbacks who “play a little bit different style,” being “in the top five in just about every category” defensively, and “first in our league in special teams.”
He concluded, “This is a very, very good team all the way around, and certainly we want to prepare and play our best football in games like this.”
Much has been made of Saban having 12 straight victories in games he has coached against teams and coaches who defeated him the year before. He said he didn’t lose any more sleep over that game than any other, and suggested that his players are more likely to be looking ahead to Saturday’s game than back at last year’s 24-21 loss in Baton Rouge.
“I lose sleep over about every game, even the ones that we win, because you never play perfectly,” Saban said. “I don’t know that there is any added motivation or if anybody is sitting around thinking about what happened last year. I think everybody’s kind of looking forward to the opportunities that they have right now.”
Saban said he hoped his players are “focused on things that matter in terms of their preparation so they will play well in the game.”