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Dave Martin, Associated Press
Alabama running back Trent Richardson leads players off the plane in New Orleans on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012. Alabama is scheduled to play LSU in the BCS Championship NCAA college football game on Jan. 9.

NEW ORLEANS — For No. 1 LSU, it's just a short drive south. For No. 2 Alabama, a quick flight.

Yet the Southeastern Conference rivals wouldn't think of trading places with other teams. New Orleans has been the goal all year long.

The Tigers and the Crimson Tide both arrived on Wednesday to prepare for the BCS title game at the Superdome, greeted by brass bands and some fans already in place for Monday's first-ever championship featuring teams from the same conference.

Alabama coach Nick Saban says, when it comes to competition, "this is about as good as it gets."

Saban called New Orleans, "a special place. A special city, a special opportunity for our team."

AP Sports Writer John Zenor contributed to this report.