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Friday, November 28, 2008
Alabama's seniors have unfinished business


Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

John Parker Wilson isn't ready to reflect. Neither is Antoine Caldwell.

The same goes for the entire Alabama senior class -- all nine of them.

  

The Crimson Tide haven't gotten to where they are this season by daydreaming about what it has taken to get them here. There's a single-minded focus about this team that makes it impossible to see anything but what's right in front of it.

On Saturday, that would be Auburn.

Still, Wilson, Caldwell and the rest of their classmates are human. As they step onto that Bryant-Denny Stadium field one last time, they'll do so with an unmistakable sense of pride.

They're the class that helped the Crimson Tide rise again.

"It's been a while since Alabama football has been what everybody around here remembers it being," said Wilson, who will make his 38th consecutive start at quarterback on Saturday. "I hope we're the team that gets it back to where it needs to be. But we have three games left and still have a lot of stuff we want to do."

That would be, in chronological order, beating Auburn for the first time after a six-year drought, winning Alabama's first SEC championship since 1999 and winning the Crimson Tide's first national championship since 1992.

"We're not the biggest senior class, but we definitely want to be looked at as the group that turned Alabama football back around where it should be," said Caldwell, one of the top centers in college football.

"The thing about this class is how close we are. It's got to be one of the closest senior classes they've ever had at Alabama. I consider the other eight seniors my brothers. We sell out and do whatever we have to to help each other. That's the mentality of this whole team."

Wilson is Alabama's season and career leader in completions, passing yards, passing touchdowns and attempts. He went to high school in nearby Hoover, Ala., and knows unequivocally what the standards are at Alabama.

He also knows the importance of beating Auburn, especially when the Tigers have won six in a row.

The No. 1 ranking is nice, and so is the opportunity that awaits next weekend in Atlanta in the SEC Championship Game.

None of that means a thing, though, if Alabama loses for a seventh straight time to Auburn.

"Nobody on our team has beaten Auburn," Wilson said. "You never get away from that. For us, this is huge. It's a one-game season right now, and this is as big as it gets."

Caldwell, who's from Montgomery, Ala., shudders at the thought of another loss to Auburn.

"I'd be lying if I said this game doesn't mean everything," Caldwell said. "It means so much to us in so many ways. We've done everything we need to do to get to this point. And as much as we've done, this season would be a letdown if we don't win this game.

"So when people ask if we might look ahead to Florida next week, they don't know what it's like to live in this state and to have never beaten Auburn. There's only one game that matters, and it's Saturday."