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Bama Takes No. 1 Ranking to Sold-out Tiger Stadium

ATLANTA (AP) - Top-ranked Alabama has the LSU Tigers right wherethey want them - in Tiger Stadium.

At least, the Crimson Tide should feel that way given their record against the Tigers on their home field.

Alabama's 43-23-5 series leads includes a better record in Baton Rouge than anywhere else - 24-8-2.

LSU fans are more than eager to change that trend, especially since the Alabama coach making his first college appearance in Tiger Stadium as a visitor is Nick Saban, who coached LSU for three years and won one national championship before departing for the NFL in 2005. He had one game with the Miami Dolphins in Tiger Stadium when Hurricane Katrina forced the New Orleans Saints to move their home game to Baton Rouge.

The 15th-ranked Tigers have won the last five, the first two coming when Saban directed LSU before leaving for the Dolphins and then landing at Alabama last year.

Saban had steered the Bengals to the national championship in 2003. Les Miles became LSU's coach in 2005 and took the Tigers to last year's national championship.

LSU beat Saban's 'Bama team in Tuscaloosa last year, but what LSU fans really want is a chance to antagonize Saban in Tiger Stadium.

What LSU fans have to realize is this isn't the same team the Tigers faced last year. It also isn't the same LSU team.

Saban says he hasn't got time to worry about what Tiger fans may
throw his way.

"This game is not about me," Saban said. "Regardless of the reception and regardless of anything, my focus is on our team and the job that we have to do."

Miles said he understands that Alabama is ranked No. 1, and he understands who coaches the team. "It's not about either of those issues," he said. "It's about LSU and Alabama. We're going to play well and focus on just those things."

Both teams have an outstanding running back - Alabama's Glen Coffee averaging 99.3 yards per game and LSU's Charles Scott averaging 111.1 yards.

The difference in this one, where Alabama is a 3-point favorite, is at quarterback. The Crimson Tide counts on John Parker Wilson, who has had outstanding performances on the road this year. In four road games, Wilson has thrown for 647 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions and a 149.46 pass rating. It all adds up to a Crimson Tide victory. Alabama 27-17.

Elsewhere around the SEC, with Ole Miss and Mississippi State having open dates:

Arkansas (plus 11½) at South Carolina: Arkansas beat No. 18 Tulsa last week. South Carolina isn't ranked, but Steve Spurrier's team is better than Tulsa, better than Arkansas, too. South Carolina 24-17.

Tennessee-Martin (no line) at Auburn: Tigers have lost three games in a row. UT-Martin has won seven of its last eight and leads the Ohio Valley Conference. Auburn has won 16 homecoming games in a row, and this will stretch that streak. Auburn 28-14.

No. 4 Florida (minus 24) at Vanderbilt: Both teams have three-game streaks working - Florida on the winning side, Vandy on the losing side. The Gators have too much firepower for the Commodores, which will add one to each streak. The Gators have beaten Vandy 17 years in a row. Florida 35-14.

No. 14 Georgia (minus 10½) at Kentucky: Georgia's preseason hopes for a national championship vanished with last week's loss to Florida. The Bulldogs have won 10 of their last 11 meetings with Kentucky, and with Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno leading the way, will win again, but it won't be easy. Georgia 21-17.

Wyoming (plus 26½) at Tennessee: This marks the next to last time Phillip Fulmer will be on the sideline at Neyland Stadium coaching the Vols. He's agreed to step down at the end of a season that has the team struggling with a 3-6 mark with three games to play. The Vols visit Vanderbilt Nov. 22 and close at home against Kentucky on Nov. 29. This one goes in the victory colummn for Fulmer. Tennessee 38-14.

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Totals for last week straight 5-2, vs. spread 4-2-1. For year, straight 52-20, vs. spread 34-29-1.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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