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Alabama head coach Nick Saban smiles during a news conference for the BCS National Championship college football game Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, in New Orleans. Alabama faces LSU Monday, Jan. 9, 2012.

NEW ORLEANS -- Alabama can either stop the option tonight or be out of options in this season's quest for a national championship.

The Crimson Tide have been superior to every college football defense in the major statistical categories, but their Achilles' heel has been an inability to stop the option. LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson came off the bench Nov. 5, when the Tigers visited Tuscaloosa, and the added dimension he provided made a difference in their 9-6 overtime victory.

"I think we'll see the option a lot more this game because it worked the last game," Crimson Tide cornerback Dee Milliner said. "It was the only play they had, really, and it changed the game. We're expecting it, and we're going to be prepared for it."

LSU averaged 7.8 yards a carry when running the option against Alabama and 2.4 yards in its other rushing plays, and Jefferson is expected to go the distance in the Superdome after sharing time with Jarrett Lee during the first meeting. Jefferson got arrested before the season and was suspended the first month of the season, but he revived his career against the Tide.

The rejuvenation largely was due to his running the option, and he believes the Tigers can do it again.

"Option is one of the things that is hard for them to control," Jefferson said, "and if they find ways to stop it the first few times, we'll have to find other ways to make it work anyway. It's one of the best threats that we have on our offense, and we're going to continue to use it no matter if they know we're going to do it or not."

Two weeks after facing the change-of-pace option that LSU employs, the Crimson Tide battled it for 60 minutes in a 45-21 win over Georgia Southern. Alabama's performance against the Eagles and their triple-option was less than stellar, as Georgia Southern rushed 39 times for 302 yards, or 7.7 a carry.

Georgia Southern finished with 341 total yards, which is 90 more than anybody else managed against the Tide.

"I think our game against Georgia Southern probably helps LSU more than us, because it gives them new ideas," Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said. "Georgia Southern is kind of like the pros in running the option, and every one else kind of minors in it. As far as picking up new ideas, it probably helps LSU more, but it helped us, too, because we got to play it for an extra week."

Defending the option is more about keys and assignments than all-out assaults, an area in which Tide defenders are quite proven. Alabama has not played since a 42-14 win over Auburn on Nov. 26, so film study and preparation time have been in abundance.

Tonight is the final chance for the Crimson Tide, and if they can contain LSU's option, there just might be another crystal ball headed to Tuscaloosa.

"I think it definitely caught them by surprise last time, because they just thought we were going to try and pound them downhill," LSU tailback Michael Ford said. "When we watched film, we thought we could get on the edge with them, and that's what we tried to do. They're definitely going to try and key on our option, but we've also got multiple running backs who can run it straight between the tackles."

Said Tide linebacker Dont'a Hightower: "The option is something that has hurt us all year. It isn't something you see too much these days, but we should still be able to stop it like we would any other play. We've really been working on the option."

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