AUBURN, Ala. — Nick Saban posed for pictures, signed a few autographs and then headed for the bus with the regular season over and little to do but wait, hope and, of course, recruit.
“See you in New Orleans,” a couple of Alabama fans called out.
Yes, but for which game?
Saban and No. 2 Alabama polished off its body of work with a 42-14 romp Saturday over rival Auburn, and now the Crimson Tide get to be spectators for a week. They’re almost certainly bound for New Orleans, either for the Sugar Bowl or the national championship game.
The other remaining contenders – namely No. 1 LSU and No. 3 Oklahoma State – have to make it through another big game before looking toward the postseason.
For the Tide (11-1, 7-1 SEC), it’s like Christmas Eve. A whole lot of waiting and hoping that they get just what they wanted.
“It’s going to be tough,” linebacker Dont’a Hightower said. “But I won’t lie to you: It’s going to be good to get a week off. A lot of guys are banged up.”
But, he added: “I feel like we showed (Saturday) that we’re a national championship contender. I feel like we did everything in our power to do that.”
The most likely scenario would seem to be a rematch against LSU, which sweated out a 9-6 overtime win over Alabama on Nov. 5.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik has faced both Alabama and LSU, losing 45-10 in Baton Rouge.
“I haven’t seen everybody else but I’d be hard-pressed to think that there’s two teams out there better or a team out there better than those two,” Chizik said.
Saban just happens to agree, arguing that his players deserve the shot.
“They’ve worked hard and made a tremendous commitment,” he said. “We didn’t do the things in that (LSU) game that we needed to do to win against a very, very good team.”
Like his team, tailback Trent Richardson made a nice statement. The Heisman Trophy candidate ran for a career-high 203 yards and caught a touchdown pass.
Saban said he feels Richardson’s the nation’s best player, but also put in a strong statement about his character.
“You love saying that about someone who is such a good person and someone who does so much to serve other people,” Saban said. “He is a great teammate. He is a lead er. He cares about everyone around him.”
Richardson’s 1,583 yards ranks only behind the 1,658 Mark Ingram managed in 13 games during his 2009 Heisman season.