TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -Alabama players are trying to forget two painful losses this week. Both are fresh wounds despite being 364 days apart.
The No. 21 Crimson Tide is trying to rebound from a 41-34 defeat to No. 2 LSU and perhaps seek a little redemption from a much more surprising defeat in the process with Saturday's visit to Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs' stunned Alabama 24-16 on Nov. 4, 2006, to end their streak of 23 consecutive Southeastern Conference road losses and send the Tide on a three-game skid to end the season. It's a memory that might help Alabama (6-3, 4-2) forget the more recent disappointment.
If Alabama fans were waiting on Nick Saban's first meeting with LSU since his hiring in January, this wait has been even longer.
Just without quite the same SEC championship stakes and hype.
``It stung for a while,'' Tide safety Rashad Johnson said Monday of that loss to the Bulldogs. ``Losing to those guys that are just right down the street, they had a chance to brag for a whole year now. It's finally back around.''
Maybe at a good time too.
While Saban and Tide coaches stress their 24-hour rule for players to stop thinking about big wins or tough losses, forgetting about the one that got away days ago will be harder than usual. The game turned when LSU recovered a fumble near Alabama's goal line to set up what proved to be the go-ahead touchdown in the final 2 minutes.
``We can't be down and disappointed, we can't be hang-dogging, we can't be wounded,'' Saban said.
Or, as linebacker Darren Mustin put it, ``You can't get a hangover and let it carry on to the next week. You've got to get stuff together and win. We've got to win these next three games.''
Besides, what better way to learn how to finish tight games than playing against an LSU team that is making a living off doing just that this season? Alabama has done its own high-wire act this season with six games coming down to the final couple of minutes.
Unlike LSU, the Tide has lost three of those games. Saban wants the Tide to develop that end-of-game swagger.
``I think that a big lesson in this game is how do you play in crunch time,'' Saban said. ``You're playing against a team that's been in a lot of big games. That's the third game they've come back from being 10 down. They have a confidence that they're going to make plays in crunch time. Obviously Michael Jordan was pretty good at making game-winning shots.
``It's confidence and belief in yourself.''
Saban said he had looked at three calls overturned by officials against LSU, and agreed with at least two of them. He said on a diving catch by Matt Caddell late in the game that was ruled an incompletion, it was harder to tell if he had possession of the ball before it touched the ground.
``We're not standing up complaining about what was called, but we had three circumstances in the game,'' Saban said. ``I think the other two were probably called correctly, and this one was really a close call. It was just a close call.''
If the LSU game was a tutorial in finishing games, the Tide received another lesson from last year's meeting with Mississippi State (5-4, 2-3), which already has wins at Auburn and Kentucky.
Don't take a win for granted.
``Maybe guys didn't look at Mississippi State as a team that actually could beat us last year,'' Johnson said. ``They looked at it as a challenge to beat us. They've beaten good teams this year. We need to really go out and play well.
``We can't take this game lightly. It's not just a win we can mark up on our schedule anymore.''
Meanwhile, Saban said there was no resolution on five players suspended the past two games for violations involving receipt of textbooks.
``We're going to continue do what we've done, which is hope for the best and kind of prepare for the worst,'' he said. ``That's all I can really say about it because nothing has been completed and it's not final.''

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