"You know, I don't really go about doing things with an expectation of getting results," Saban said yesterday. "We're kind of process-oriented in what we do. We try to build the character and attitude we need to compete at a high level, and we tried to recruit each year to get the best possible players that we could and develop those players the best we could to be as good as we could be."
While the 50,000 LSU fans who are expected to take over the 80,000-seat Superdome might disagree, Saban said that winning tonight might not be the only measure of success against the Sooners.
"I think when you watch movies like The Last Samurai, it's not really about winning the battle," said Saban. "It's the honor of doing the best you can in the battle, so that's basically what we try to do game in and game out."
The Tigers expect that Oklahoma should be on top of its game, especially from a mental standpoint.
"I think they are more aware they can be beat," said LSU's Williams. "I don't think whether they won or lost, we would respect them any more or less, but I think they realize teams can come up and get you if you're not ready. I think they're going to be ready for the game and so are we."
5 KEYS TO SUGAR BOWL
1. Sooners' psyche
You don't know how much Oklahoma's 35-7 loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game last month took out of the Sooners. As long as the Tigers hang around, the more it will wear on Oklahoma. If LSU were to take a lead early in the game, it might snowball quickly. That a large percentage of the crowd is expected to be decked in purple and gold could also work in LSU's favor.
2. Going deep
Both teams are blessed with a group of terrific receivers. The Sooners had five players with 22 receptions or more, led by Mark Clayton (79 catches for 1,393 yards and 15 TDs). Michael Clayton (no relation) led the Tigers with 74 catches for 1,041 yards and 10 TDs, with Devery Henderson setting a school record with 11 TDs among his 51 catches.
3. Bayou bandits
While the nickname of the defense from LSU's last national championship team in 1958 might not fly in this politically correct world - they were called "The Chinese Bandits" - this year's defense has been the most dominating in college football. Given that All-American Chad Lavalais used to be a prison guard, maybe it should be called "The Lockdown" defense.
4. Heisman winners
Reigning Heisman Trophy winners have had mixed results in the national championship game. The most recent to encounter problems was Eric Crouch of Nebraska, who was under constant pressure against Miami two years ago in the Rose Bowl. Oklahoma's Jason White hopes to have the same success that Chris Weinke of Florida State did in the Sugar Bowl four years ago.
5. Giant distractions
It appeared that Oklahoma was clearly at a loss without defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, who moved on to become head coach at Arizona right before the Big 12 championship game. LSU coach Nick Saban is trying to ward off the rumors about him leaving Baton Rouge for the New York Giants (or possibly the Chicago Bears) as he readies his Tigers for their biggest game.
Matchup: No. 2 LSU (12-1) vs. No. 3 Oklahoma (12-1)
Site: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans
When: Tonight, 8
TV: Chs. 2, 7
Line: Oklahoma by 6 1/2