- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When Alabama and LSU meet, everything is on the line. The game between the two schools has decided the SEC West champion more often than not in recent years, and has served as a springboard to the national title.
While Alabama coach Nick Saban insists Saturday night's date with Les Miles' Tigers in Baton Rouge, La., is just another game on the schedule, the postseason implications are not lost on him.
"It's about playing a very, very good team in your division that every game you've played with them the last four or five years is of significance," Saban told ESPN's Samantha Steele.
Alabama or LSU has represented the SEC West every season but one since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2007. The Tide lost the regular season matchup with the Tigers last season but met them again in the national championship game, winning 21-0.
This season's rematch seems to have the same weight behind it as last year. Alabama is No. 1 in the BCS, LSU No. 5. Whoever wins will be in the driver's seat in the division and will become instant national title contenders.
But the Tide are leaving the buildup of the game to fans and the media. Staying grounded is important in a hostile road environment.
"It is a really, really exciting game, but we've got to play within ourselves and I guess that's what he's trying to stress with us this week -- play within ourselves and play our game," UA safety Vinnie Sunseri said. "Don't get out of the game plan that we come into the game with. Don't try and do too much. Just do what we've done all season. Play your assignment, do what you need to do during a game and we'll be ok."
UA linebacker C.J. Mosley said it's all about having the right mindset. Death Valley can play tricks on opponents. How a young Alabama team handles the pressure will be key.
"The main thing is just the atmosphere of the crowd," Mosley explained. "Some teams might go down there and just not have the right mindset or (be) ready to play and might let the crowd get to them or let the adversity get to them. But being where we are, we have to make sure we stay focused and block out all the clutter and just be ready for a physical game come Saturday."
1dSam Khan Jr.
2dSam Khan Jr.