LSU and Alabama clash in "game for the ages"

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 06: Drake Nevis #92 of the Louisiana State University Tigers in action during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Tiger Stadium on Nov. 6, 2010 in Baton Rouge, La.
Getty Images/Chris Graythen
Louisiana State University Tigers play Alabama Crimson Tide
LSU vs. Alabama
Getty Images/Chris Graythen

(CBS/AP) - Ain't no rivalry like an SEC rivalry. LSU and Alabama meet in Tuscaloosa Saturday night for what many are calling the biggest college football game of the season - possibly one of the biggest in years. Top-ranked Louisiana State University and No. 2 Alabama are playing in a game that will most likely determine who goes on to the BCS national championship.

Just how big is this game? It features two of the most rabid fan bases in sports, showcases two teams who play a retro style of power running that's all but disappeared from college football, and may mean more to the tornado-ravaged city of Tuscaloosa than just a game.

"Of course, 1 vs. 2, game of the century and all that type of stuff," Alabama tight end Michael Williams said. "You've got to put out the mental clutter."

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Which isn't to say Williams isn't embracing the hype, even while some teammates downplayed it with that "just another game" spiel.

"This is what you come to Alabama for," the tight end said. "Great opportunity for some players. I know the atmosphere will be crazy. This is what you want to play in. It will be one for the ages."

In anticipation, the contest is definitely one for the ages. Both teams had last Saturday off, meaning there were two weeks to build the excitement to a frenzy. But the game will also be one for the ages in that it's mostly a throwback to an earlier style of football.

"It's a type of game that ... you don't necessarily see too often nowadays," LSU offensive lineman T-Bob Hebert said. "It is a little more old-school, so I think that'll be something fun to watch for the fans."

Both the top-ranked and barely tested Tigers and mostly unchallenged Alabama are built on power runs and run-stuffing defenses in a time when spread offenses are en vogue and huddles are optional.

"If you want to see 1970s smashmouth," Michael Williams said, "then this is what you want to see right here."

For the residents of Tuscaloosa, Ala., the game means more than just a game. After a devastating F4 tornado in April, a special bond has formed between the town and the players of the Crimson Tide.

The killer storm left forty people dead, and thousands of homes destroyed. In the wake of the devastation, the Alabama football team joined hundreds of volunteers to help rebuild the community.

"People are desperately in need, and it's easy for people to forget, but this will be an opportunity to remind a lot of people across the country that what happened here was devastating," explained University of Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore.

An opportunity for healing, an opportunity for football glory, and an opportunity to watch one of the most anticipated games in a generation. What more do you need?