Saban Says Alabama Will Be Motivated

Alabama is a consensus number one, at the top of every college football poll in the nation, but the Crimson Tide is not likely to be the favorite when Bama takes on Florida in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game. Bama Coach Nick Saban says that doesn't matter.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban participated in a conference call with sportswriters Sunday afternoon. (Florida Coach Urban Meyer was involved in a separate conference call.)

Bama has a better record than Florida, beat the one team that defeated the Gators (Ole Miss), and is ranked ahead of Florida (which is number two in the Associated Press poll, but fourth in the BCS rankings). Still, almost all have expected the Gators to be favored over the Tide since the SEC Championship game was set up several weeks ago.

Saban was asked whether all the hype being on Florida might be an advantage for Alabama and the situation used for motivation. "It doesn't matter," he said. "Florida has really played well and scored a lot of points. They haven't had a close game other than the Ole Miss game. They deserve all the accolades they get.

"We have enough motivation in terms of the opportunity we have."

Alabama, 12-0 overall and winner of the SEC Western Division with an 8-0 record, will meet Florida, 11-1 and 7-1 and winner of the Eastern Division, in the SEC Championship Game in the GeorgiaDome in Atlanta Saturday. Kickoff will be at 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. central) with television coverage by CBS.

"Winning the SEC is special," Saban said. "Having the opportunity to go on and play in another competitive venue after this game makes it special. It's a great game with great players."

Saban said he thinks every conference should have a championship game. He remembered games against top ten teams Tennessee and Georgia when he was LSU's coach. "It's a great competitive game, it's two great teams, it's a great atmosphere, and it means something," he said.

The winner of the SEC title game will go to Miami to play in the BCS national championship game on Jan. 8. The loser goes to the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2.

Many believe Oklahoma is in the driver's seat to get the other berth in the BCS Championship Game. That's because the Sooners are ranked second in the BCS calculations this week, which means Oklahoma will represent the Big 12 South in the league's title game against Missouri. There had been some controversy about the South representative with Texas (a winner over Oklahoma) and Texas Tech (a winner over Texas, but loser to Oklahoma) also having just one loss. Saban was asked about that.

"It's the rules," Saban said. "It's not Oklahoma's fault. There would be an issue whoever got selected."

Alabama is coming off a dominating win, a 36-0 romp over cross-state rival Auburn. Saban isn't worried about his team getting past that game and getting focused on the Gators.

"We prepare for every game pretty much the same way," Saban said. "Every game is an important game. We have the same routine throughout the week. We'll enjoy this (the Auburn win) and then look ahead. We've got to get ready for the next game and everyone will focus on that when we go to work Monday."

Saban said, "We're extremely proud of the way our team finished the season. We had a good win against Auburn. When you win 12 games, it's special." He was complimentary of the role the senior class played in the success of the team.

As would be expected, Saban was very complimentary of Florida, calling the Gators "a fantastic team," with Florida Coach Urban Meyer having a team of excellent athletes who are well-coached. He mentioned Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, last year's Heisman Trophy winner, and was particularly impressed that Florida leads the nation in takeaway-turnover margin.

"They are an outstanding team, but I don't think you can be in the SEC Championship Game without playing an outstanding team," Saban said.

Alabama opened the season with a 34-10 win over Clemson in the GeorgiaDome. Saban downplayed any advantage Bama might have. "We'll be familiar with the surroundings and the lighting, but the game will be decided by the players," he said.

The Tide coach was asked if the GeorgiaDome was a fast track, and if so if that would help Florida. He said the field is "the same for both teams. They have a fast team and we have some decent speed."

Speaking of fast, both Alabama and Florida have had fast starts in most games this year. Will that be important?

"The important thing in all games is for everyone to play every play for 60 minutes," Saban said.

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