For the top-ranked Crimson Tide's laser-focused coach, that amounts to a monumental concession to what Saturday night's meeting with the Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium means for both teams and fan bases.
For Alabama (8-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference), it represents one of the biggest remaining hurdles toward a crack at a third consecutive national title.
LSU (7-2, 3-2) hopes to spoil that bid and still turn the season into something special despite losing to both Georgia and Mississippi by a field goal. Plus it's Alabama.
"It's definitely huge. I can't even understate that," Tigers running back Jeremy Hill said. "It's a big game. I'm not even going to sit here and lie to you guys. You just can't let it overwhelm you."
Hill said that's one thing Alabama does well in big games. "They don't let the moment get to them," he said.
The Tide is 15-4 against opponents ranked in the top 10 over the past six seasons. Then again, nobody has beaten Saban and the Tide as many times as LSU's three victories since 2007, and the Tigers have won five of the past six meetings in Tuscaloosa.
"Just to play a game of this magnitude with this type of team, this is kind of our national championship right here," Tigers linebacker Lamin Barrow said. "And I feel like those guys feel the same way, so it's a kind of different attitude when we play these guys. You hate to lose to a team like Alabama."
The last time LSU visited Bryant-Denny, the teams combined for 15 points and zero touchdowns even with overtime thrown in. The last three meetings produced a collective 74 points. The oddsmakers' over-under for this one is 55 points. The Tide is ranked second in the SEC in scoring offense and LSU fourth, and both have plentiful weapons for quarterbacks AJ McCarron and Zach Mettenberger.
The Tigers are 12-point underdogs in a rivalry where the margin for the last three regular-season meetings has been almost a dead heat: LSU 50, Alabama 48. Tigers defensive tackle Anthony Johnson is feeling a bit put out by all the attention tilting toward the Tide.
"It's personal with me because I I'm not saying I dislike them, I have an edge against them," Johnson said. "It's always been Alabama and LSU, Alabama and LSU, but this year people are just saying ... Alabama is going to get past that team. Honestly I don't like that."
• Florida State at Wake Forest,10 a.m., Ch. 4
• Auburn at Tennessee, 10 a.m., ESPN
• Penn State at Minnesota,10 a.m., ESPN2
• Western Kentucky at Army,10 a.m., CBSSN
• Iowa at Purdue, 10 a.m., Big Ten
• Missouri at Kentucky, 10 a.m., ESPNU
• James Madison at New Hampshire, 10:30 a.m., NBCSN
• Virginia at North Carolina, 10:30 a.m., KMYU
• Montana at South Dakota, noon, Altitude
• USC at Cal, 1 p.m., Ch. 13
• Montana at Eastern Washington, 1 p.m., ROOT
• Nebraska at Michigan,1:30 p.m., Ch. 4
• BYU at Wisconsin, 1:30 p.m., ESPN
• Mississippi State at Texas A&M, 1:30 p.m., Ch. 2
• Hawaii at Navy, 1:30 p.m., CBSSN
• Illinois at Indiana, 1:30 p.m., Big Ten
• Arizona State at Utah, 2 p.m., Pac-12
• North Carolina at Duke, 2 p.m., ESPNU
• Kansas at Oklahoma State,2 p.m., FS1
• Cornell at Dartmouth, 2 p.m., NBCSN
• Virginia Tech at Miami, 5 p.m., ESPN
• Houston at UCF, 5 p.m., ESPN2
• Texas at West Virginia, 5 p.m., Ch. 13
• Southern Miss at Louisiana Tech, 5 p.m., CBSSN
• Utah State at UNLV, 6 p.m.,ESPNU
• Colorado at Washington,6 p.m., Pac-12
• LUS at Alabama, 6 p.m., Ch. 2
• Notre Dame at Pitt, 6 p.m., Ch. 2
• UCLA at Arizona, 8 p.m., ESPN
• Fresno State at Wyoming,8:15 p.m., ESPN2
• San Diego State at San Jose State, 8:30 p.m., CBSSN
No. 20 Louisville 31, UConn 10
Teddy Bridgewater threw for 288 yards and a touchdown to lead No. 20 Louisville (8-1, 4-1 AAC) to a 31-10 victory over winless Connecticut on Friday night in East Hartford, Conn.Bridgewater has at least one scoring pass in 21 straight games.
The Associated Press