published Monday, October 24th, 2011

LSU, Bama set for battle of the best

BCS STANDINGS


  1. LSU

  2. Alabama

  3. Oklahoma State

  4. Boise State

  5. Clemson

  6. Stanford

  7. Oregon

  8. Kansas State

  9. Oklahoma

  10. Arkansas

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama football coach Nick Saban is hoping to "chill" discussion about the biggest regular-season game in Southeastern Conference history, but it's not going to be easy.

Not even for his own players.

The No. 2 Crimson Tide and No. 1 LSU cruised to easy victories this past weekend and are off this Saturday, so it's clear sailing to their Nov. 5 showdown at Bryant-Denny Stadium. For the first time in the 75-year history of the Associated Press poll, the SEC will have the nation's top two teams going head to head during the regular season.

LSU and Alabama also are 1-2 in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings, which were released Sunday night.

"I'm sure there will be a lot of hype about this game, but I just think everybody needs to chill out mentally and physically and every other way for a few days," Saban said minutes after Saturday night's drubbing of Tennessee. "We will have plenty of time to get ready for that game."

Anticipation for the Alabama-LSU contest grew Sunday afternoon when CBS announced that the game would take place in prime time. CBS usually has just one evening telecast a season and used that Oct. 1, when the Tide shredded Florida in Gainesville, but the network worked an agreement with ESPN that reportedly will benefit ESPN on a telecast, or telecasts, next year.

SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said this is the first time that CBS, which became the primary broadcaster of the league's games in 1996, has moved an extra game into prime time.

"If we say this game is too big, it could hurt us," Tide senior receiver Darius Hanks said. "We've got to treat it as any other game and any other SEC team, but I'm definitely looking forward to it, because there has been a lot of talk about LSU."

The SEC had pairings of top-two AP teams after the 2008 and '09 regular seasons, when Alabama and Florida met in those league championship games in Atlanta.

Saban said the immediate objective for his team, which is 8-0 and has outscored foes by an average tally of 39-7, is to rest and get healthy. The Crimson Tide will practice Tuesday through Thursday and take the weekend off.

Junior tailback Trent Richardson plans to head home to Pensacola, Fla., and watch his alma mater, Escambia High, play Friday night. He hopes it will help calm the hype of LSU's impending visit.

"We're going to figure it out," Richardson said. "We've just got to go in there composed, yet we've also got to play relentless. We've got to make sure this team doesn't forget who we are, because I know they're not going to let us forget who they are."

LSU also is 8-0, having outscored foes by an average of 39-12. The Tigers defeated Tennessee 38-7 a week before the Tide dumped the Vols 37-6, and the comparative scores against Florida are very similar as well -- Alabama downing the Gators 38-10 a week before LSU won 41-11.

Alabama sophomore receiver Kenny Bell, one of four Crimson Tide players from Louisiana, made his first career touchdown reception in the third quarter against the Vols. Yet after the game, he was getting barraged about the big one two weeks away.

"I hear it all the time," Bell said, smiling. "I just got a couple of text messages saying that LSU is ready for us."

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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