Alabama football coach Nick Saban was a 20-year-old Kent State defensive back in 1971, when No. 1 Nebraska defeated No. 2 Oklahoma 35-31 in a Big Eight Conference matchup that was dubbed the "Game of the Century."
"I remember watching it, but I don't remember much," Saban said last week. "I remember that's the year I got married, and I've been married ever since. I remember a lot about being married. I don't remember a lot about the game, though."
That was the second regular-season matchup ever between top-two Associated Press teams from the same conference -- No. 1 Texas defeated No. 2 Arkansas in a 1969 Southwest Conference showdown -- and Saban's No. 2 Crimson Tide will take part in the latest. On Saturday night, Les Miles and the No. 1 LSU Tigers will visit Bryant-Denny Stadium in the first regular-season pairing of 1-2 teams in Southeastern Conference history.
LSU and Alabama are 1-2 in the latest AP, USA Today and Harris polls, and they were 1-2 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings that were released Sunday night. Steve Spurrier has coached 19 seasons in the SEC and Houston Nutt 14, and they can't recall another SEC regular-season game that can stack up to this one.
"The only one I sort of recall was back in '96 when I was at Florida and we played FSU," Spurrier said. "Of course that wasn't a conference game, but we had No. 1 and No. 2 going at each other. Fortunately we got a rematch about a month later, but as far as a conference game, I can't remember one. I'm sure Nick and Les will keep things very similar. Everybody knows it's a huge game, but you do your similar week of preparation."
Said Nutt: "It seems like there has always been a game each year with a lot of hype, but this one will probably be one of the biggest in the last five or 10 years. Right now, they're at a little bit of a higher level in personnel. They are deeper at all the positions and especially in the lines."
Oklahoma and Nebraska met again as the top two teams in 1987, with the No. 2 Sooners winning 17-7. The Big Ten has had two different 1-2 pairings, with No. 1 Iowa defeating No. 2 Michigan 12-10 in 1985, and No. 1 Ohio State defeating No. 2 Michigan 42-39 in 2006.