- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The SEC’s performance in bowl games up until this point has been underwhelming, especially for a conference that prides itself on being the best in the country.
What’s that mean for Alabama in Monday night’s Discover BCS National Championship against Notre Dame?
Not a lot, according to the Crimson Tide’s players.
But one of the truisms when it comes to bowl games was reinforced Tuesday night in watching heavy underdog Louisville take apart Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
“Once you get there, it’s who plays the better game, not so much who’s the better team,” Alabama senior center Barrett Jones said.
Jones stopped short of singling out the Gators, but his point was clear. LSU also lost to Clemson 25-24 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, while Mississippi State fell 34-20 to Northwestern in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl.
“I think we’ve seen in a few bowl games this year, and I’m not going to name any specific names -- and you guys probably know who I’m talking about -- where probably the better team hasn’t won the game,” Jones said. “A lot of that has to do with preparation and the kind of mindset you take into the game.”
In a lot of ways, Florida’s 33- 23 loss to Louisville brought back memories of one of Jones’ worst moments as a college player. Alabama lost 31-17 to Utah in the Sugar Bowl to end the 2008 season.
“Watching (Tuesday night), I couldn’t help but think of 2008, my first bowl game against Utah,” Jones said. “It’s not about who’s the better team. It’s about who fights the better fight that night.”
Junior receiver Kevin Norwood said the Crimson Tide don’t need any reminders about what’s at stake.
“Whenever you get into a bowl game, your record is 0-0 and nobody has won anything,” Norwood said. “It basically depends on which team is the most prepared.”
1dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
2dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney