The League: Road rules


Published: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 2, 2008 at 12:31 a.m.

So much for home cooking.

If there's anything that can be discerned through the first few weeks of Southeastern Conference play, it's that road teams rule.

SEC teams are just 3-9 at home through the first 12 conference games of the season.

There have been some big wins (Alabama winning at Georgia to move up to No. 2 in AP poll) and big upsets (Ole Miss knocking off No. 4 Florida at The Swamp for its first conference win since 2006.)

"It's a tribute to the competitive spirit of the teams in this league," Alabama coach Nick Saban said.

"There's great parity. It's still a matter of consistency and that's something as coaches we all face, how do you get your players to play as good as they can each week, because it doesn't take much (to lose)."

Alabama has had early success on the road this season, winning their first two conference games at Arkansas and at Georgia.

Georgia staged a blackout Saturday, wearing their black jerseys while more than 90,000 screaming fans also wore black in the nationally televised night game.

It didn't faze the Tide. Alabama jumped to a 31-0 halftime lead.

"You try to keep the focus on the game and not the external factors," Saban said. "The field is still 53 yards wide, 120 yards long."

Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt has been on both ends of the spectrum early this season.

After losing at home to Vanderbilt, the Rebels rallied from down 17-7 at halftime to win at Florida.

"When you're on the road, 70 players, coaching staff right there in the same hotel, you tend to be a little more focused," Nutt said. "When I'm at home, I'm worrying, ‘Did my brother get a ticket? What about the alumni visiting?' There's really more distractions at home than there are on the road."

Georgia coach Mark Richt acknowledged distractions may have played a role in his team falling behind 31-0 against the Tide.

Richt said the Alabama weekend was a big one for recruiting visits on campus.

"There are things we need to tighten up," Richt said. "We may need to make it like a road game every week."

Saban is wary of a letdown when Alabama hosts Kentucky this week in its home conference opener.

"When you play at home, you can get a relaxed mindset," Saban said. "You have to go out and make it an advantage by how you play."

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