published Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Split No. 1 a possibility

Should Alabama defeat LSU on Monday night, the Crimson Tide can expect to receive every first-place vote in the final USA Today coaches' poll.

The final Associated Press poll, however, could wind up with Alabama, LSU and even Oklahoma State receiving first-place votes. Several AP voters are against voting for the Tide, who could become the first national champions in the BCS era that failed to win their conference.

"It's a national championship game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "LSU beat us and won the SEC championship, and now this is a completely different venue. The voters and the system proved out that these are the two best teams, and we're going to play for the national championship.

"I think whoever wins should be viewed as the national champion."

LSU coach Les Miles, whose Tigers won 9-6 in overtime in Tuscaloosa and had to play an extra game when they thumped Georgia 42-10 for the SEC title, agrees with Saban's assessment.

"We had the opportunity to play for the West and for the SEC, and we've won those two things," Miles said. "The opportunity to go play for the national championship is a completely different scenario. I understand the various opinions and all the speculation, but this is a great opportunity for both teams.

"We're looking forward to it."

The Birmingham News recently asked 20 of the 60 AP voters if they would vote the Tide No. 1 if they won Monday night, and 12 said for certain that they would.

Should LSU lose a tight game and receive the most votes in the AP poll, it would result in the second split national title of the BCS era. In 2003, LSU won the BCS championship but Southern California got the AP vote.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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