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Alabama to Sugar Bowl after missing playoff

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saban for Dec. 5

Alabama head coach Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide will face Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Eve day.

The expected outcome of Alabama’s weekend became reality Sunday when the Tide missed the College Football Playoff and was selected to meet selected Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl.

The Dec. 31 game will kick off at 11 a.m. CT before the two CFP semifinal games later that day.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban held a video news conference Sunday afternoon previewing the game. Here were the highlights:

— “We’re excited by the opportunity,” Saban says, calling Kansas State a “really, really good” opponent. “Coach Chris Klieman has done a fantastic job there with their team.”

— “This is certainly gonna be a challenging game for us,” Saban said, noting “they play great on defense, they’ve got two really good quarterbacks, they’ve got a really great running back. They have a lot of diversity in what they do and they’re a very well-coached team.”

— Saban said his team needs to “bounce back” and “show they’re excited about the opportunity that we have to play against a top-notch team that’s a conference champion.”

— “We’re gonna coach the players that are there,” Saban said. “We certainly have a great amount of appreciation and respect for the guys that are going to finish the season with the team. ... There will be some opportunity for new guys, no question, but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

— Saban said he has not yet watched film on Kansas State and coaches were hosting recruits Saturday, so they could not watch the Big 12 championship game. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for their accomplishments, their players, their coach and what they’ve been able to do this season.”

— “Obviously there’s going to be some disappointment that we didn’t get into the playoffs,” Saban said. He said Alabama had an “up and down” season but “finished strong,” and “hopefully we can do a great job of embracing the challenge that we have.” He said the Sugar Bowl is a “classic,” and players can “prove who they are as a team.”

— “It’s certainly an honor for us to be in the Sugar Bowl,” Saban says.

— Saban said he’s always had a tremendous amount of respect for Kansas State. They are tough, disciplined and ball-hawks, he said. Saban added he “had a lot of respect” for former longtime K-State coach Bill Snyder, and Chris Klieman has “certainly picked up and built what has turned out to be an outstanding team for this year.”

— “I think there’s going to be opportunities created for the bowl game,” for younger players, Saban said. “It’s a great opportunity for players to look forward and not look backward.” He said they can use the time to help their development.

— Saban said players need to make their own decisions about playing in the bowl game, and “just about every player” on the team can benefit and create value for themselves, including “answer[ing] any questions that anybody might have about them.”

— Saban said the college football culture has changed because of the importance of bowl games being diminished. “Players have a lot of choices, so hopefully they’ll make choices that will create value for themselves and their team and their teammates.”

— Nick Saban said Alabama has an award ceremony late Sunday but he has not yet spoken to Bryce Young or Will Anderson about their plans. He said they participated in workouts last week.

— “Every adversity creates an opportunity,” Saban said. “I think it started when Bryce got hurt at Arkansas. ... We didn’t make the progress that we would have liked to make during that time.” He again noted Alabama lost two games on the last play, and they did not take advantage of opportunities in those games.

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