Success has not come easy for Alabama over the past five years, between NCAA probation and penalties, four head coaches and only three winning seasons and one bowl during that span.
One thing most current Crimson Tide players haven't had to do is handle success. That becomes a new goal this week as the Tide (6-3, 3-3 SEC) settles into the concept of earning both a winning record and bowl eligibility with last week's 30-14 victory over Mississippi State.
For a team that hasn't finished with a winning record since 2002 and hasn't been to a bowl since 2001, it's easy to get caught up in all the speculation about bowl selection instead of focusing on Saturday's game at No. 17 LSU.
"We were down in the training room talking about it," quarterback Spencer Pennington said. "We read that the Peach Bowl might be a possibility or something like that. If we get a couple of more wins, maybe going to Dallas and playing in the Cotton Bowl.
"But we're not worried about that. We're worried about LSU. It's hard not to talk about it because it's fun. And we're going to continue to talk about it. But now it's time to forget about all that and concentrate on LSU."
Considering the way his team has handled some major injuries to key players this season, second-year Alabama coach Mike Shula isn't too concerned about his team's ability to handle its new status, especially with LSU and Auburn still left on the regular-season schedule.
"That part won't be challenging at all," Shula said. "They are focused in on getting their seventh win already. It's nice that we're bowl eligible and we know we're going to play the defending national champions.
"But, yeah, we're bowl eligible. But if we win another game, we've got a chance to play later in the bowl season. To me, the ultimate goal is to play on New Year's Day and from where we are now, we need to win two games to have a chance."
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