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Alabama may have upper hand over LSU

By Paul Newberry

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Jan. 6 2012 10:27 p.m. MST

Alabama's changes aren't likely to be that dramatic, but there's little doubt that losing to LSU a couple of months ago provided the Tide with a needed wake-up call. Coach Nick Saban's team went into that game ranked No. 1, boasting a bruising runner in Trent Richardson and a defense that was being called one of the greatest in college football history.

The Tide certainly didn't look at LSU as a pushover — heck, the Tigers had already beaten the teams that would go on to win the Rose Bowl (Oregon) and Orange Bowl (West Virginia) — but Alabama didn't react well when faced with an opponent that was willing to go toe-to-toe in perhaps the most bruising game of the year.

Throw in an abysmal performance by the special teams (the Tide missed four field goal attempts) and a trick play gone awry (an end-around pass was picked off at the goal line), and it was the Tigers celebrating at the end.

"We learned a lot from that game," Alabama nose guard Josh Chapman said. "That game kind of made our season. We didn't finish in that game. We didn't capitalize. Those guys capitalized on our mistakes. They finished stronger than we did. We learned a lot from that. The coaches showed us: When we're doing things right, it's hard to beat us."

If anything, LSU may be looking to pick up a motivational edge from a common theme coming from the Alabama side, most bluntly expressed by receiver Marquis Maze: "They didn't beat us. We beat ourselves."

Rest assured, the Tigers are listening to every word.

"When people get in front of the cameras, they're going to say what they want to say," Mathieu scoffed. "When you step between those lines, no one can hear you but the team you're playing against. We're going to let our play do the talking and hopefully come out with the W."

Asked if Maze's comments would spur on the Tigers, Mathieu glared back, "Definitely."

In the end, the rematch may be decided by which team has the best case of amnesia. While tendencies and play-calling can be charted on film, both teams must recognize this isn't early November. There will be different situations, different moments of adversity. The team that copes best will likely be hoisting the championship trophy Monday night at the Superdome.

"Learn from the mistakes that you make the last time and know there are going to be adjustments made the second time around," the Giants' Snee advised. "They (Alabama) obviously are not going to sit there and get beat by the same thing they got beat by before in this game. There will be adjustments and then obviously if something works for them defensively, they are going to come back to it."

If anything, LSU lineman T-Bob Hebert expects both teams to much looser than they were the first time — even though much more is on the line in the BCS championship game.

"It's weird how that works out," he said. "The two weeks leading up to the last one felt more tense than this one does. We have played before. We feel comfortable, and not only that, but not being in school, being able to relax a little more, and get off our feet.

"I expect to see more scoring," he added. "It's mathematics. How many games have no touchdowns scored? If you play the odds, it's going to be higher scoring than 9-6. I don't think it'll be crazy, but it'll be more than 9-6. Somebody is going to get into the end zone."

BCS title game

LSU (13-0) vs. Alabama (11-1)

Monday, 6:30 p.m. MT

Superdome, New Orleans

TV: ESPN

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