When fourth-ranked Alabama and fifth-ranked Louisiana State meet today, there will be more at stake than any previous meeting between the...

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — When fourth-ranked Alabama and fifth-ranked Louisiana State meet today, there will be more at stake than any previous meeting between the two teams.

Host Alabama (9-0 overall, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) has a legitimate shot at playing for the national championship. Both teams are in the running for the SEC championship. An Alabama victory over LSU (7-1, 4-1), coupled with a Georgia victory over Auburn, would give the Crimson Tide the SEC West title.

“It’s obvious that this is why you come to a school like LSU, Alabama, Florida or Tennessee, to play in really big football games like this,” LSU defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. “There are not many schools in the country that can say they had a matchup where the No. 4 and No. 5 teams in the country played and had their division lead at stake in the game.”

Alabama running back Tim Castille said, “Everything has turned into a one-game season if we want to win the national championship. We have to play each game like everything’s on the line. Because it is.”

LSU has won eight consecutive November games dating to 2002. It is a three-point favorite to win today because it has a slightly more effective offense in a matchup of two heralded defenses.

First-year coach Les Miles is seeking to become the first Tigers coach to defeat Florida, Auburn and Alabama in the same season. He said his offense will have to be patient and not force the issue against an Alabama unit that leads Division I-A teams in scoring defense (allowing 8.2 points per game).

“I think their force unit, their front seven, is probably as good of a front seven as we have seen,” Miles said. “They are very capable at linebacker. They are a very talented defensive line, a physical group who can run. They substitute a number of people in there, and every guy who goes in plays extremely well.”

Friday night’s game

At No. 23 Louisville 56, Rutgers 5

Brian Brohm passed for 339 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score to help the Cardinals (7-2, 3-2 Big East Conference) rout the Scarlet Knights (6-4, 3-3).

Louisville running back Michael Bush, second in Division I-A with 21 touchdowns, did not suit up. He sprained his right foot in a Nov. 3 game against Pittsburgh. Friday’s game was the first the junior has missed.


• Navy coach Paul Johnson said Notre Dame’s staff might have a problem preparing for today’s game in South Bend, Ind.

“I’m sure they’re fighting over the chalk trying to figure out what to do,” Johnson said. “Do they mash us or do they throw it over our head? All of it looks good. Maybe they’ll fight over the chalk and get confused.”

No. 7 Notre Dame (6-2) has beaten Navy (5-3) an NCAA-record 41 consecutive times.

• If No. 2 Texas (9-0, 6-0) defeats Kansas (5-4, 2-4) today, it will clinch the Big 12 South division title and a berth in the conference-championship game.

Texas hasn’t won the conference since 1996 and hasn’t played in the title game since 2001. The Longhorns have won their last seven games by an average of 35 points.