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December 1, 2012

NOTEBOOK: Tide enjoying win while looking to Miami

ATLANTA | For the University of Alabama, the 36-day wait to play for the school's 15th national championship against Notre Dame begins today.

After Alabama's 32-28 win over Georgia for the SEC title Saturday, however, players were looking forward to the 24-hour rule, allowing them to celebrate a victory for a full day, lasting as long as possible.

"I've got 24 hours to enjoy this, then I'll talk about Notre Dame," senior tight end Michael Williams said. "I know half of Tuscaloosa's in Atlanta right now."

The Fighting Irish and Alabama will be announced as the BCS National Championship Game participants Sunday when BCS standings are released.

The game will be played in Miami's Sun Life Stadium.

It will be a homecoming for freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper, who is from Miami.

"It's a dream come true, and I can't wait to go play in front of my hometown," Cooper said.

The Irish (12-0) finished their season with a win over Southern Cal last week.

UA coach Nick Saban said his focus turns to the team banquet tonight before beginning preparations for the Irish. He also provided some details on how Alabama will handle the month-plus gap in the schedule.

"I'll look at the calendar tomorrow and do a schedule and we probably won't practice for a couple of weeks," Saban said. "Then we'll practice so many practices, then go play the game. And I'm not going to get ready to go play them until we start practicing. ... You can't practice your way to the game ... it's too long."

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was too smart to waste the exposure opportunity that ESPN College GameDay's presence outside the Georgia Dome provided. Kelly joined the ESPN cast on the set to put an Irish green touch on what was otherwise a Southeastern Conference-only setting, and was asked about both potential BCS title opponents.

Injuries

UA offensive lineman Barrett Jones was on crutches after the game. Jones said he sustained a foot injury in the first quarter but continued playing largely on adrenalin.

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"Good doctors," Jones said when asked how he was able to continue. "I just wrapped it up really tight. When you unwrap it, it tends to start hurting really bad. That's what happened."

Jones said he is confident he'll be healthy for the BCS title game against Notre Dame.

Defensive end Ed Stinson came off the field in the first half with an injury, and nose guard Jesse Williams left in the second half, but both returned. Stinson was spelled by Quinton Dial. Williams came back into the game as a fullback for Eddie Lacy's go-ahead touchdown over right tackle. He later returned to play defense.

From the sideline

While UA wide receiver Kenny Bell (broken leg) could not play Saturday, he made the trip along with Alabama's other injured players and had to be satisfied supporting his teammates from the sideline.

"It hurt a lot (to not be able to play), but I'm proud of my team," Bell said. "They played real well tonight. I'm just proud of the boys. It's always a family thing. I feel a part of it."

No Black

Freshman wide receiver Chris Black was expected to play despite his eligibility for a redshirt this season, but he did not enter the game. Saban had said during the practice week that UA was preparing Black to play after Bell's injury left the team short-handed at that position.

"I'm not disappointed," Black said of not playing. "I'm just glad we won the game."

Tidebits

Eddie Lacy averaged 10 yards per carry in the first half, gaining 90 yards on nine carries. He finished with 181 and game MVP honors. ... Lacy and running back T.J. Yeldon both rushed for over 100 yards for the second time this season, previously doing so against Missouri. Yeldon's 153 yards gave him 1,000 for the season. ... Saturday marked the first scoreless first quarter in SEC Championship Game history. ... UA linebacker C.J. Mosley has 99 tackles on the season after recording seven Saturday. ... Jack linebacker Xzavier Dickson recorded two sacks in the first half, the first time an Alabama player has made two sacks in a game this season. ... The SEC West champion has won four consecutive SEC title games. ... Ha Ha Clinton-Dix's fourth interception of the season, which he returned 35 yards, was Alabama's 17th of the year. ... Alabama's 350 rushing yards were an SEC title game record. ... Game captains for the Crimson Tide included senior nose guard Jesse Williams, senior guard Chance Warmack and senior safety Robert Lester.

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

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