The Game That Does Not Matter

From time-to-time, Alabama Coach Nick Saban will address a group of sportswriters, perhaps a few, perhaps dozens, and say, "You guys think…" And he almost never says anything I'm thinking about. But he could probably nail me right now if he said I was thinking about how Alabama can win the national championship.

And even though Nick Saban is the master of the process, which includes definitely not looking beyond the next task, I suspect he could not pass a lie detector test if asked if he had given any thought to Alabama being in the BCS Championship Game to be played in Miami on January 8. (A polygraph would be needed because he would say "No.")

One thing Coach Saban and I would agree on is that tonight's much-ballyhooed Texas Tech game at Oklahoma game has nothing to do with where Alabama ends up. It could provide an opponent, but beyond that it doesn't matter.

A self-fulfilling prophecy is that if Texas Tech wins tonight game, the Red Raiders will go ahead of Alabama in the national polls. Currently, Alabama is number one and Texas Tech is number two. Bama, of course, is resting on its 11-0 laurels this weekend.

The reason it is self-fulfilling is the people who vote are the ones predicting it.

It doesn't matter. At worst, Alabama will be number two. And if Alabama defeats Auburn in its regular season finale next Saturday (2:30 p.m. CST kickoff with CBS televising), it will be a perfect regular season. Auburn is a game that matters.

It is then on to the Southeastern Conference Championship Game in the GeorgiaDome in Atlanta on December 6 to play Florida. A win over the Gators would make Alabama 13-0 and the Crimson Tide would be in the BCS national championship game. And a win over Florida might propel the Crimson Tide back to number one, but that's not the reason it matters.

For the same reason tonight's Oklahoma-Texas Tech game doesn't matter, neither would a ranking of number one.

The BCS Championship Game pits number one against number two, and it doesn't matter which you are.

If Alabama beats Auburn, beats Florida, and wins in Miami on December 6, that will matter. It will mean a national title for the Crimson Tide.

And I'm thinking about it enough for me and for Nick Saban.

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