One Game Season, Winner Take All

A staple of bowl game activity is the day-before-the-game meeting of the head coaches to have a photograph taken with the bowl trophy and for them to answer questions for a final time before kickoff.

Alabama and LSU meet in the BCS National Championship Game at 7:30 p.m. CST Monday at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. Bama is 11-1, the one loss a 9-6 overtime decision at the hands of LSU in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 5. The Crimson Tide is ranked second in the nation. LSU is 13-0 and ranked first in the nation.

Sunday morning, Alabama Coach Nick Saban and LSU Coach Les Miles fulfilled their obligations. Both were relaxed and in good humor.

It was interesting that ESPN's Brent Musburger was in the media hotel. Following the Fiesta Bowl, Musburger said that Oregon had given LSU its best game in regular season play. That would have been news to Miles, who seemed surprised that anyone would ask the team that been the Tigers' toughest opponent.

"Yes," Miles said. "Absolutely. I mean, if you just review the season, it will come up pretty comfortably that way. I mean, really, without another team that you would consider. The teams that we play, this is certainly the best team on our schedule."

Miles went a little further. He said what made Alabama the best team LSU had played this year is "I think they play hard. I think they work hard. They are willing to pay the price."

While Miles was taking care of that issue, Saban gave his view of another post-season discussion, that being if Alabama wins whether there might be some split national championship. (Miles had also dismissed talk of Monday night's game being for anything less than the national championship: "a completely different scenario, played with the title at stake.")

Saban called Monday night's game as being a "one-game season, winner-take-all."

Saban was asked about the defenses of the two teams and said that he had respect for the players on the LSU side and admiration for what his team has been able to accomplish.

He added he did not think "In a one-game season, a winner-take-all game, like this game is, what you have done in the past is necessarily going to affect what happens in the future.

"So everybody's going to have to play well in this challenge, in this game, on this day, for every play in this game. Because there's a lot of talented players on the offensive sides, too.

"So we're going to have to go out there and execute and do a good job to play the kind of defense that was played in the first game."

Saban also said he thinks his team has prepared and is "where we need to be. And you are never quite sure. You can only speculate. But I've like the way we've prepared."

The Tide coach also pointed out that "every game we've played against LSU in the last five games comes right down to the wire some kind of way. So you have to be prepared to sustain your performance for 60 minutes."

Asked what kind of game to expect, Miles said, "I expect it to be big-boy football. And I'd expect it to be very, very physical, and that it would be a game that would be representative of two quality football teams."

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