SABAN: What if you had lost?
There wasn't much news out of Alabama's 45-0 win over Chattanooga. There were no notable injuries and the Tide's best players were out of the game early. Mark Ingram, who is among the frontrunners for the Heisman trophy, had 102 yards in about a quarter and a half of football.
"I'm sure we could have left him in today and he could have had a huge day," Nick Saban said, "but he had 100-plus yards and I think that's a good day for when he came out, and hopefully that rest in the second half will help him."
This game was a condition precedent, however, for getting Saban to talk about the Auburn game next week.
"I told our players if you lost this game today," Saban said, "there would be nothing more that would tarnish what you've accomplished. You're going to be an NFL player driving a Mercedes-Benz and you're going to pull up next tot a pretty girl and roll the window down and she's going to say, 'You lost to Chattanooga when you were at Alabama.'"
Saban meant no disrespect to Chattanooga, of course, but the point was taken.
"There are a lot of fans, whether Auburn or Alabama, that equate the success of the season based on what happens in this game," Saban said. "This is an important game for a lot of reasons and for a lot of people. Next week when I have this press conference you're going to ask if the SEC championship game is the most important game we'll play; you guys are going to sensationalize it."
"We were pleased to be able to play as many players as we played today," he said. "I think that every senior got to play in the game -- I hope. We tried. It's good that the guys came out and played Alabama football so we could play those guys."
Saban said the squad's efficient performance "showed respect for our opponent."
Alabama and Auburn will play next Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Saban said he will try to front-load the most physical work to put the team on as normal a routine as possible toward the latter part of the week. The benefit of today's trouncing of UTC was that many starters were allowed to rest the second half, and, Saban hopes, giving them enough rest that the compressed schedule for the coming week won't be too taxing.
Saban said the staff worked some on breaking down Auburn's offense during the bye week.
"I think we understand what we need to do," he said. "It's going to be a difficult week of preparation because they do a good job with their offense, their formations; they've got some good running backs and they can make some explosive plays in the passing game."
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