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Alabama coach Nick Saban leads the Alabama Crimson Tide onto the field.

College football is a 60-minute game, though LSU and Alabama wouldn't know much about that this season.

The No. 1 Tigers and No. 2 Crimson Tide enter Saturday night's showdown at Bryant-Denny Stadium with 8-0 overall records and 5-0 Southeastern Conference marks. Neither team has been pressed for the full four quarters, and Alabama hasn't played a meaningful fourth-quarter snap since last year's regular-season finale against Auburn.

Alabama's tightest advantage after three quarters this season was a 24-10 lead at Florida, a game in which the Crimson Tide had relegated the Gators to their backup quarterback. So will they be comfortable in a close one?

"I think you always want to play the game for 60 minutes," Alabama coach Nick Saban said Wednesday. "That's something we always emphasize with our team -- the importance of that -- and it's going to be important in this game to be able to play for 60 minutes. I'm not curious about it, and I don't worry about it.

"We try to instill it in our players that it's the way the game is supposed to be played. We've been in a lot of close games for 60 minutes around here before, and I'm sure this is going to be another one."

Since the start of the 2009 season, Alabama is 32-3 and has played just five games decided by a touchdown or less. The Crimson Tide won two close games on their way to the 2009 national championship -- topping Tennessee 12-10 and Auburn 26-21 -- and they lost to LSU and Auburn last season by scores of 24-21 and 28-27.

LSU has led every game this season by 13 or more points entering the fourth quarter with the exception of its Sept. 15 trip to Mississippi State, when the Tigers turned a 9-6 lead into a 19-6 victory. The slew of blowouts is a break from the norm under coach Les Miles, who has had a knack for being in close games.

The Tigers played seven games last season decided by seven points or less and won six, defeating North Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama and Ole Miss. The lone loss was to eventual national champion Auburn.

Miles isn't sure if that success last season will have a carry-over Saturday night.

"In this league, you play in so many close games that you understand it," he said. "It's certainly 0-0 at the start, and there are so many times throughout the game it can be up and down. There have been so many times where we don't focus on the score and just play -- play like we play.

"Our guys have been on the road. They've been in tight games, and they kind of understand."

Coaches and players from both teams expect a fight to the finish Saturday night, and they expect to be vying in future meetings with a lot at stake as well.

"It seems like more and more each year that both teams have a lot more younger players contributing to the teams," Alabama junior linebacker Dont'a Hightower said. "It is definitely going to be a really big rivalry in the next few years."

A record crunch

Roots Woodruff, Alabama's associate director of media relations, expects to issue more than 650 media credentials to Saturday night's game.

"In addition to Sports Illustrated and ESPN GameDay, we've got the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the New York Post and the New York Daily News," Woodruff said Wednesday. "We've got New York covered. We've got papers from Chicago, Boston and Houston. It's a national game, and the writers we've got coming reflect that."

Woodruff said big games in the past, the most recent example being last year's matchup with Auburn, typically require 450 credentials.

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