Muschamp says line play will determine winner
Will Muschamp's Gators lost to LSU and Alabama by a combined score of 79-21, which gives the first-year Florida coach some perspective on tonight's No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown. Muschamp believes the game will live up to the hype, and he gave his assessment of what makes both teams so good.
"They are very similar teams," he said. "They're big, physical teams. They're both very physical on both lines of scrimmage. They run the ball like you need to in this league. They're just both very physical on both lines of scrimmage. That's why they are where they are and the rest of us right now … are trying to catch up. They're very physical on both lines of scrimmage, they both play really good defense, but they play well as an entire team from the standpoint of ball possession offensively and then defensively taking advantage of opportunities when they happen. They're very similar makeup as far as when you look at their rosters."
Asked what would be the one thing he's most interested in seeing from the two teams, Muschamp said he'd focus on who controls the line of scrimmage.
"This one's going to be won up front, and that's the matchup I'd be interested in watching," he said. "Both of them have very good defensive fronts. Both of them are very physical on the offensive lines. Talented backs. I think, again, you come down to some turnovers, obviously, in the game, in every game. Who's able to consistently run the ball and play well up front."
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley also has faced both teams.
"They are obviously two great teams, programs that have a tradition of winning, excellent coaching staffs," Dooley said. "The only thing that matters is who's going to play the best for three hours. And that's really what it's going to come down to. I could sit here and analyze it, but it's just going to come down to who plays better for 3½ hours.
Antonya English, Times staff writer
We're No. 1, we're No. 1!
Here's a look at the past 10 regular-season meetings involving No. 1 vs. No. 2:
Nov. 18, 2006: No. 1 Ohio State 42, No. 2 Michigan 39
Sept. 9, 2006: No. 1 Ohio State 24, No. 2 Texas 7
Nov. 30, 1996: No. 2 Florida State 24, No. 1 Florida 21
Nov. 13, 1993: No. 2 Notre Dame 31, No. 1 Florida State 24
Nov. 16, 1991: No. 2 Miami 17, No. 1 Florida State 16
Sept. 16, 1989: No. 1 Notre Dame 24, No. 2 Michigan 19
Nov. 26, 1988: No. 1 Notre Dame 27, No. 2 USC 10
Nov. 21, 1987: No. 2 Oklahoma 17, No. 1 Nebraska 7
Sept. 27, 1986: No. 2 Miami 28, No. 1 Oklahoma 16
Oct. 19, 1985: No. 1 Iowa 12, No. 2 Michigan 10
How about a rematch?
Even before tonight's LSU-Alabama showdown, some are speculating about a potential rematch in the BCS title game. It's possible, but unlikely.
If the loser wins its remaining three games in impressive fashion — LSU has outscored its opponents this season by more than a 3-1 ratio; Alabama 5-1 — it still would be unlikely to push ahead of unbeaten teams in other major conferences in the BCS standings.
"It's tough," said Wes Colley, whose Colley Matrix is one of the six computer ranking systems used in the BCS formula. "I think particularly with Oklahoma State, there are enough good teams in the Big 12 this year that I think if you come through that unscathed, it's just hard to say (the Cowboys) don't deserve a shot. And probably that's even true of Stanford."
• The SEC never has had an intraconference regular-season matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2.
• The SEC has been part of the past seven 1-vs.-2 bowl matchups, and it has won five consecutive national titles.
• This is only the second time LSU and Alabama have met when both were in the top five. The other meeting was in 2005, when No. 5 LSU won at No. 4 Alabama 16-13 in overtime.
Rivals.com, Washington Post and Philadelphia Daily News contributed to this report.
Alabama coach Nick Saban's birthday was Monday, and as a gift his players signed a jersey with the No. 60, his age, and his last name on the back. But when the players presented the jersey to their coach, it didn't register with Saban that they were pointing out his age. He was upset because he thought they'd pegged him as an offensive lineman. • "I was thinking: 'I'm a skill player. There's no way I can sport this 60, man. I've got to have a lower-than-50 number of some sort,' " Saban said. "That's how I feel, and that's how I think."