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November 24, 2012

NOTEBOOK: Focus already on Georgia

TUSCALOOSA | The 24-hour rule that University of Alabama players are expected to adhere to following games - 24 hours to celebrate wins or repress losses before focusing on the next opponent - didn't sound as if it was in play after UA's 49-0 win over Auburn.

It seemed, instead, that the Crimson Tide's immediate focus had turned to facing Georgia in next weekend's Southeastern Conference Championship Game.

"To me, in all those games I've been a part of, they're about as good as any game in the country other than the national championship game," UA coach Nick Saban said. "Georgia's got a really good team and is playing really well right now. ... They're very good defensively, they're a good offensive team, they've got a good quarterback. They throw the ball, they run it, they've got good runners."

While Georgia clinched the SEC East with its win over Auburn two weeks ago, the Crimson Tide needed Saturday's win over the rival Tigers to clinch the SEC West. It will be the first time Alabama has played someone other than Florida in its SEC title game history.

UA has not faced Georgia since beating the Bulldogs in Athens, Ga., in 2008.

"We've seen them on TV and stuff like that," UA receiver Kevin Norwood said. "They have a good defense and a great offense, and we've just got to go in Monday and focus on what we have to do to win the game."

Injuries

Alabama wide receiver Kenny Bell will miss the rest of the season with a broken leg. Saban said Bell's rehabilitation is expected to require five to six weeks. Bell was helped from the field to the locker room after a 19-yard run by T.J. Yeldon in the second quarter. The junior from Rayville, La., entered the game leading the Crimson Tide in yards per catch at 26.0.

"They're going to have to put a rod in his tibia, I guess. He's got a broken leg," Saban said. "... He's going to be out."

"It hurts us to see him go down because we know he wants it (worse) than any of us," Norwood said. "It's a shame."

Saban also said nose guard Brandon Ivory sustained a minor ankle injury. Cornerback John Fulton (turf toe), who returned to practice after the Western Carolina game, saw fourth-quarter action for the Crimson Tide.

Senior Day

The Alabama senior class was recognized before the game for its final home appearance. Saban shook hands with each senior and his parents in a pregame ceremony that included roses for the mothers. The longest trip for any of the parents? No doubt the father of nose guard Jesse Williams, who traveled from Australia to attend. Williams, along with Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones, received two of the biggest ovations.

The senior class' four-year record of 47-5 gives it the best winning percentage in school history.

Chizik mum on future

Auburn coach Genen Chizik refused to comment on his uncertain future after the game. With a 3-9 season, winless in the SEC, Chizik's job is reportedly in jeopardy.

"I've got a locker room full of guys that are very disappointed and hurting, starting with our seniors," Chizik said. "That's my focus, so I'm not going to entertain any of those questions."

Quotable

"I just tried to hustle a piece of pizza from one of the players, and you'd have thought I was trying to take everything he owned." - Saban on the postgame scene in the locker room.

Tidebits

With Alabama's offense enjoying peak efficiency, UA punter Cody Mandell essentially had the day off. Mandell did not punt until UA's second offense had a drive stall in the fourth quarter, by which time Alabama led 49-0. He finished with two punts for a 48.5-yard average. ... UA freshman receiver Amari Cooper's 109 yards receiving marked the third game this season he has gone over the 100-yard mark (Tennessee, Texas A&M). ... Quarterback AJ McCarron now has 44 career touchdown passes, three short of John Parker Wilson's school-record 47. ... UA safety Robert Lester made his 14th career interception Saturday, tying him for fifth on the school's all-time list. ... Alabama's 42-0 halftime lead was the largest it has held at the half in series history. ... Game captains for Alabama were linebacker Nico Johnson, defensive end Damion Square and offensive lineman Barrett Jones.

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Reach Chase Goodbread at chase@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0196


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