Look for 'big boy' football in BCS title game

By Paul Newberry

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Jan. 8 2012 3:59 p.m. MST

"He's not like that all the time. He does have a personality," junior Robert Lester said. "But he's hard on us because he wants us to get the job done. On the field, he demands what he wants. By doing so, the guys go out there and try to do it perfect to please him. It works. You can tell, because we're playing in the national championship game again. When you come here, you've got to buy into the program. That's part of it. We've bought in and had success."

Saban did break character a few times Sunday.

When someone's cell phone went off in the back of the room with a loud song, the coach interjected, "Is that a little Al Green? Turn it up, man." He drew laughs when telling how he grilled anyone who wanted to go out on a date with his daughter. "None of them ever really answered me," he said, managing a slight smile. "They were so intimidated so I never got much good information."

Saban even revealed the morning routine he has with his wife.

"We get up at 6:15 every day and watch the Weather Channel for about 30 minutes before we start our day," Saban said. "I get most of my marching orders in that 30-minute segment of what we should do or how I should do it or why it's important to do it that way, what I need to talk to the team about. I get coached up very well in that 30-minute segment of the Weather Channel."

He might want to see if there's a Kicking Channel.

Alabama likely would have won the first meeting with LSU if not for the dismal performance by its two kickers. Cade Foster botched three field-goal attempts, including a 52-yarder after the Tide went the wrong way with its overtime possession. Jeremy Shelley also missed.

Given these are two defenses that take it personally when someone gets close to the goal line, Foster and Shelley are likely to be called on again in the championship game. But the Alabama offense hopes to make it a little easier on them this time. Foster's other misses were from 44 and 50 yards. Shelley failed to convert on a 49-yarder, far beyond his normal range.

"We've got to get them closer. We've got to get them kicking extra points. We can't be going for three points every time," Alabama lineman William Vlachos said. "Obviously, it's not the kickers' fault when we're throwing them out there for 50-yarders every time. That's on the offense, that's on the defense, that's on everyone else but the kickers. As a team, we're not putting the blame on them, that's for sure."

No one doubts the Alabama defense, which wouldn't look that out of place in the NFL with 260-pound linebackers Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw. The Crimson Tide led the nation in every major category, allowing a minuscule 8.8 points a game.

LSU, with not one but two All-American cornerbacks in Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu and Morris Claiborne, isn't far behind. The Tigers have allowed the second-fewest points (10.5) and are no lower than sixth in the other three major rankings.

While those who prefer high-scoring games might be flipping around the dial Monday night, these teams aren't apologizing to anyone. In fact, they give rave reviews to LSU-Alabama I.

"I thought it was beautiful," Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said. "That was grown men out there battling. It was the most physical game since I've been at Alabama. It was brutal — the pounding, all the big hits."

That game also marked a turning point for LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson. He began the senior year of his checkered college career with a four-game suspension, punished for his involvement in a bar fight, but took over when Jarrett Lee threw a pair of interceptions against the Tide. Jefferson guided the Tigers to their biggest victory and started the final four games.

Another win over the Tide, he said, "will make my legacy at LSU that much sweeter."

Miles veered away from a question about whether one more victory would stamp LSU as one of the best teams in college football history. Jefferson had no such qualms.

"If we do win this game, I think we will go down as the greatest team," he said.

AP Sports Writer John Zenor in New Orleans contributed to this report.

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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