Tide Must Play Best Game, Says Ingram

In last year's Alabama football game against Auburn, things were not going well. Mark Ingram, considered to be among the leaders for the Heisman Trophy, had a terrible game. Alabama, going for the national championship, was having a terrible game.

All's well that ends well. Although Mark Ingram had only 34 yards on his 16 carries, a few weeks later he was in New York, captivating the sports world with his heartfelt acknowledgement of the Heisman presentation. And although Alabama trailed in the game at Auburn for (stop me if you've heard this) some 58 of the 60 minutes, the only lead that counts is the one when the clock goes to 00:00. Bama came from behind for a 26-21 victory and a little more than a month later had the Crimson Tide's 13th national championship.

In many respects, the football shoe is on the other foot. On Friday, Alabama will host Auburn in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Kickoff will be at 1:30 p.m. CST with television coverage by CBS. Alabama has no chance to repeat as national champion. Ingram has no chance to repeat as Heisman winner.

Auburn is ranked second in the nation and will play in the national championship game if the Tigers can beat Alabama and then defeat South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game. And the reason Auburn is in that position is the Tigers have the nation's best college football player, Heisman Trophy favorite Cam Newton.

Ingram's acknowledgement Monday was that his job Friday is "to out out thee and play hard, play my heart out like I always do. Just do my job and do whatever I can to help this team be successful on every play; put this team in a position to win games.

"That's my main focus. I really can't focus on him (Newton) or what's going on with the Heisman with him, because I can't control that. I can control what I do as far as helping this team."

Ingram played through the pressure last year and understands what Auburn is going through. "All the pressure is on them," he said. "It's like reversed roles." 

Ingram said, "We need everybody's full focus, everybody's best week of preparation. Everybody needs to put his best effort forward this week."

Even though, Ingram said, "The backs have a little chip on our shoulders, a little edge," from being held down by Auburn last year, he added, "It's nothing personal or it's nothing emotional. We just have to go out and execute. Our main focus is just winning games. Whether we have 20 yards or 300 yards, we're happy with whatever we can do to help the team win games.. That's our main focus."

Ingram knows it won't be easy.

"We know that they have a great defense, a solid defense," Ingram said. "They play hard and they play hungry on that side of the ball. We know that they are definitely a challenge for us."

Although Auburn is 11-0 and ranked second in the nation and Alabama is 9-2 and barely in the top ten, Ingram thinks the Crimson Tide will win.

"I believe in all my teammates," he said. "I believe in everybody who is involved with this program. They're just not going to come here and lay down. We have to go out there and we have to execute. We have to play our best game. Everybody has to put forth his best effort. I think as long as everybody has the same mindset and the same focus, then I think we'll have a chance, a good chance.

"We haven't played a full 60-minute game yet as a team. We've taken tremendous strides the past two games getting there, so we're trying to make it all click Friday and put together a great game and a great performance. We're going to need everybody's best effort, from the coaches to the players."

Sixty minutes was just enough last year.

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