TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - No. 3 LSU is one of the nation's best teams. Coach Les Miles is doing a fantastic job. The defense is outstanding.
No. 17 Alabama coach Nick Saban couldn't say enough nice things about his former team.
But chances are it won't do much to get him back in the good graces of fans still bitter about him leaving for the NFL and then winding up with a division rival.
When he wasn't heaping praise on the Tigers, Saban tried his best to avoid becoming the story line leading up to Saturday's game.
He said the focus of the game should be about the players, not the fact that his old team is playing his new one.
Saban led LSU to two SEC titles and a Bowl Championship Series national championship during five seasons in Baton Rouge and recruited 17 of the team's current starters.
Then he bolted for the NFL's Miami Dolphins for two seasons before returning to the SEC West.
The Tide (6-2, 4-1) has plenty of other reasons to look forward to this game. Alabama has won three straight to move into a tie atop the West with LSU (7-1, 4-1) and returned to the rankings after a 41-17 rout of Tennessee two weeks ago before an open date.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)