Tide on Top

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - A No. 1 ranking. A grudge match. A title

To Alabama coach Nick Saban, those aren't things to celebrate.
They're "external factors," potential distractions that can
waylay a team before it reaches its ultimate goals.

Maybe that's why much of the Crimson Tide's public reaction
Monday to the program's first regular-season No. 1 ranking in 28
years ranged from indifference to embarrassment.

So maybe it's a positive for the Tide that most of the questions
Saban fielded Monday were about his return to face No. 15 LSU on
Saturday in his former stomping grounds.

Alabama (9-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) can clinch the
Western Division title and secure a spot in the league championship
game for the first time since 1999 with a win over Saban's old

Saban has repeatedly emphasized that the game is about the
players and two good teams, not about his return to the campus
where he coached for five seasons.