With both teams wary of peaking too early with the preparation and the intensity level, Miles said the bye week affords his team an opportunity to rest and focus on individual improvement. His coaching staff, meanwhile, has a chance to do some recruiting and add some wrinkles to the game plan. "With an extra week to prepare ... whatever statistics or tendencies that we have, we try very significantly to break them," Miles said. "We'll play against LSU in this open week more than we'll play against Alabama."
Since both teams fortuitously have open dates, it means an extra week of chatter ahead of the primetime game Nov. 5 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. It makes for an awful lot of what the second-ranked Crimson Tide’s coach Nick Saban calls clutter, too. "Getting our players not to think about everything that’s surrounding the game. That’ll be the hardest part," Saban said.
The showdown between LSU and Alabama on Nov. 5 will shape one half of the title game. Oklahoma State controls its destiny to be the other participant, but still must face Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma. A loss - likely to the Sooners - would allow Stanford to slip into the spot, assuming the Cardinal can beat Southern California this week and Oregon on Nov. 12.
We're going to teach a lesson. Let's call it the A-B-Cs...the A is for Alabama, the B, is for beaten and the C, that's for the corpse, that the Road Warriors are going to turn into a broken and bloody smear in the middle of that football field! OOOOOOOH WHAT A RUSH!
Trent Richardson, Alabama. He struggled a bit against Tennessee but still managed 110 yards in 20 touches and is still on pace for 1,700 rushing yards, 350 receiving yards and over 30 touchdowns. If Alabama beats LSU, and he is a primary reason why, he probably moves to the top of a lot of people's lists.
Saban said game-specific preparation would not begin until later this week. Miles indicated his staff, as well, has other things on its mind this week. "We do recruiting, we look at our team and insist they get some rehabilitation, some rest, to regain some freshness," Miles said. "We review our own statistics, our self-scouts, and recognize things we've done that we might need to change. ... It's like we play against LSU in this open week more than we play against Alabama."
"I probably don't do as much numbers crunching as a lot of people," said the fifth-year coach of second-ranked Alabama. That doesn't mean he isn't working overtime studying top-ranked LSU in preparation for a Nov. 5 showdown at Bryant-Denny Stadium. "We look at the technical aspects," Saban said. "For instance, I might look at who gets the ball on third down ... and what position is he in on third down? That may not make that guy the leading receiver, but it means he's the go-to guy in certain instances and certain formations and certain situations. "So I'm not a big statistical guy."
"Obviously, there are going to be a lot of good players in this game," Saban said, "and I think a premium all of a sudden becomes doing things correctly. You can get away with doing them [incorrectly] against somebody who's not challenging you. But they [the Tigers] certainly have enough good athletes to challenge you in terms of every aspect of the game."
Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama: The Crimson Tide are oozing with talent on defense, but Upshaw has been a consistent disrupter whether it’s rushing the passer or playing the run. He leads the SEC with 11.5 tackles for loss, including 4.5 sacks.
As pointed out this week by resident CBSSports.com BCS expert Jerry Palm, it's safe to assume poll voters don't want a rematch after they vaulted No. 4 Florida over No. 3 Michigan in the wake of the Gators' SEC championship victory (and No. 2 USC's upset loss) in 2006. "I think there is a sense that it isn't fair to make the winner beat the loser again," Palm writes, and that's even before discussing the logical allure of taking the team that has a BCS conference championship over the one that doesn't (assuming their records are equal). As long as voters have a viable option other than the rematch, they'll take it.
Alabama, Arkansas, LSU and South Carolina already are bowl-eligible. Auburn and Georgia all but are. After that, the bowl prospects of the SEC's remaining teams get much murkier. For example, even though neither Kentucky nor Mississippi State has won a conference game yet, either could go a long way toward securing a bowl spot by winning when they square off in Lexington on Saturday.
Sophomore inside linebacker C.J. Mosley says the elbow that he injured on Sept. 24 in a 38-14 victory over Arkansas is starting to feel like normal. He didn't play against Florida or Vanderbilt, saw a little action at Ole Miss and participated fully last week in a victory over Tennessee. "I dislocated it," Mosley said. "I was kicking and screaming. I've never felt anything like that. But it's pretty good now."