Western Carolina coach Mark Speir has dealt with some of the challenges Alabama faced in recent years as the team everyone badly wants to beat.
It makes Saturdays that much harder, if decidedly less daunting than taking a 1-9 Football Championship Subdivision team to face the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide (9-1), which is coming off its first loss of the season.
Speir was an assistant on the Appalachian State teams that won three consecutive FCS titles from 2005-07.
''Getting this kind of loss late, it can cripple a national championship,'' said Speir, ending his first season leading Western Carolina. ''But the thing about Nick Saban, whether you like him or not, he's one of the best in the business, of all-time.
''He's a guy that it doesn't matter if they're going to play the Green Bay Packers or Western Carolina University or Smoky Mountain Middle School. He's going to prepare that team the very best he can.''
Given the obvious mismatch, this might be the fourth most important ga...