Alabama-LSU rivalry rivals the best in the nation


Alabama's Nick Saban and LSU's Les Miles have split their head-to-head matchups 3-3 at those respective schools in the past five years. (Photos by The Associated Press)

Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 6:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 12:05 a.m.

Alabama coach Nick Saban calls it “The Process,” described as not focusing on results but how you get there.

The results are staggering whether you believe in the detail-oriented philosophy as whole-heartedly as those in Tuscaloosa do or not.

Saban is building a dynasty, having won two national titles with only four losses in the past four seasons.

The only coach who's held his own against Saban, widely hailed as the nation's best coach, will be the one standing on the same sideline he stood on at the turn of the century: LSU's Les Miles.

“When you play in games like this, everybody would say it's really critical you play your best in a game like this,” Saban said. “But the formula and the recipe for what that is doesn't really change. Even though you'd like to change it, and put a little more sugar in the cake to make it taste better, it usually makes it taste worse.”

The only one with a recipe for Saban is Miles. The two SEC West foes steeped in old-school SEC football have split their head-to-head matchups 3-3 at these respective schools in the past five years.

Now with another high-stakes showdown between these powerhouses upon us, the rivalry is beginning to place itself among the antiques of Michigan-Ohio State, Nebraska-Oklahoma from the 1970s and 1980s and Florida State-Florida from the 1980s and 1990s.

It may not be the rivalry with the most dust on it, but the winner is on its way to hoisting the shiniest piece of hardware there is.

Of course, it didn't happen that way last year when Alabama got a do-over and dominated LSU 21-0 for the national title.

The Tigers will have had 298 days, including a bye last week, to swallow that beatdown.

“There are a lot of scars from that national championship game,” LSU defensive tackle Bennie Logan said. “You will see it on the field. The loss in the national championship game had a big impact on us. Going into last season, we had set goals like winning the national championship. Bama took that from us. They took that national championship ring. We want to show the world that we have bounced back from that loss.”

LSU had to bounce back from a loss at Florida to give this game the SEC and national title implications that last year's “Game of the Century” had. The No. 5 Tigers have successfully escaped South Carolina (23-21) and Texas A&M (24-19) to do so.

Now the Tigers have to conjure up their best game yet in Death Valley, where they've won 22 straight games, the longest active streak in the FBS.

“I promise you the view of the 92,500 that'll walk into Tiger Stadium, they'll be very excited about it,” Miles said. “We'll be challenged, and certainly they will.”

That would be a first this year for the No. 1 Tide, who have won every game by at least 19 points.

Alabama's defense is the best in the nation in just about every major category yet again, junior quarterback AJ McCarron hasn't thrown an interception since Nov. 12 last season, and running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon have combined for 1,245 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Still, Saban has high praise for Miles, a national champion in his own right who's picked up right where he left off at LSU.

“We've had really great games with these guys and have a tremendous amount of respect for them,” said Saban, who coached LSU to the 2003 national championship. “This has historically been the most consistently successful team in our league. There's no question about that ... We're obviously going to have to play our best to have a chance to be successful.”

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