- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The players filtered in and out, the coaches too. The football office on the University of Alabama campus was quietly buzzing as ESPN cameras documented it all on the Wednesday leading into Alabama-LSU, the primetime showdown Saturday night between two teams ranked in the top five of the BCS Standings.
The hype of the game wasn't a deterrent to the day's events, though. For players and coaches, it was more of the same: Work out, watch film, practice. Rinse, repeat.
Alabama hasn't gotten to No. 1 in the country by letting the pressure get to it. What's at stake goes without saying.
"Everybody knows the ramifications of the game," coach Nick Saban told ESPN's Samantha Steele.
The goal: stay the same, play the same. Saban doesn't want anxious players coming out of the tunnel in Death Valley on Saturday night. The environment there is capable of eating players alive if they're not prepared.
But how do you know when your players are ready? How do you know they're focused?
"You don't," Saban said flatly. "Until they go out there and play, you don't."
So for now, Alabama is thinking about itself. Not the hype. Not even LSU.
"It's important we play our game," Nussmeier explained.
The same can be said of the defense.
"We know what the standard of our defense and our team is," UA linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "If we execute our game plan, we feel we have a great chance to come out with a victory."
Mosley said the right things in front of the cameras. Fellow linebacker Nico Johnson did, too. In fact, Johnson let it out that he thought the Tide's defense were the underdogs all season. He must have missed all the applause in their favor.
In truth, the hype doesn't matter here, at least not on the surface.
Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart sat down and spoke about overhauling the defense and the challenge that LSU presents running the football downhill. He knew he also had the Tigers quarterback to account for. Smart said to watch out for Zach Mettenberger's ability to throw the ball deep.
Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier broke down film of play-action pass against Arkansas with Steele, pointing out how quarterback AJ McCarron has progressed this season because of his focus on the little things. Nussmeier credited the play of the offensive line and the emergence of the receiving corps for the Tide success putting up points as well.
Saban took his turn with the cameras three times, riding to work with Steele and then conducting a short interview before heading to his office. He returned around midday to talk about handling the pressures of The Game of the Century Part III. Part I was an epic defensive struggle that nearly cost Alabama a shot at the national title. Luck gave the Tide Part II and a chance at redemption which they gladly accepted, dominating LSU 21-0 in New Orleans to claim their 14th national championship. Part III is anybodies game.
The reminders of it being LSU week are small. There were signs no bigger than a piece of notebook paper with LSU logos printed on them in the weight room, but not much beyond that. After Part I and Part II, Part III needs no introduction.
Players have heard Les Miles' now famous quote about Death Valley being a place where "dreams go to die." Good thing Alabama isn't sleeping on the Tigers. The media hype may be in overdrive, but the focus the Crimson Tide possess isn't letting any of that in.
It's LSU week and no one wearing crimson needs to be reminded of that.