On Saturday afternoon, Cajun-twanged expletives will surely ring through Bryant-Denny Stadium. There will be people in purple and gold shirts comparing Nick Saban to the devil. But for the first time since Saban landed in Tuscaloosa, LSU-Alabama will be about much more than a fanbase scorned.
The No. 3 Crimson Tide aren’t hosting the No. 9 Tigers in the 2009 Saban Bowl; they’re hosting them in what amounts to a national quarterfinal. Alabama can clinch the SEC West with a win and all but end LSU’s BCS hopes. LSU, meanwhile, stands to gain control of the division and put a serious kink in the Florida-Alabama SEC title game clash many consider inevitable.
Coaches typically go out of their way to downplay a matchup (see Saban, Nick and his “the next game is the most important game” mantra), but LSU coach Les Miles admits this is a make-or-break game for the Tigers.
“I can tell you that our football team wants to compete for the SEC Western Division championship every year, and certainly that’s this game,” he said. “I don’t think we need to put other pretense on this game. This is a game that is very significant, and our guys understand it.”