Alabama & Jacksonville State prepare for national championship games

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - The Valley of the Sun was dark Thursday as over an inch of rain hit the area - about a seventh of the yearly average in just the first week of the year!

But the sun will be out Monday in Glendale - the site of the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Crews have been working all day to get the Alabama and Clemson decals up on the stadium's facade. They're working hard to get everything ready for the teams to arrive Friday night.

But for the Crimson Tide, it was just another day of preparation in Tuscaloosa. The team is treating it like a normal game week. That helps the players feel comfortable in what is a new situation for everyone involved.

What's not new is the type of offense Clemson brings to the table. A fast-paced, uptempo style which is becoming somewhat of a norm for teams on Alabama's schedule.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said, "This is nothing new. We've played against seven or eight fastball teams this year, so we've always had a plan for how we are going to get people in and out of the game. Getting players in and out by situation, so that's something that we'll continue to do in this game."

He's right, but none of those teams were 14-0 with a Heisman finalist at quarterback. So when chasing Deshaun Watson around all night, rotating defensive lineman in and out will be key.

Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said, "This group is pretty deep. They can roll in and out and they take pride in that. There's not a lot of selfishness in that group.They challenge each other each day and they compete for playing time and do a great job of helping each other out and they are a great unit kind of like that offensive line is."

Alabama practices just one more time on campus before the team heads to the desert on Friday.

Don't forget, there are four division one football teams playing for a national championship this week - two of them from the state of Alabama.

Just 132 miles from Tuscaloosa, the Jacksonville State Gamecocks prepare to play four-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State Saturday. The Bison have title game experience, but JSU is no stranger to post season play.

JSU head coach John Grass said, "We've seen everything you can run across and that all has definitely prepared us and helped us get to this point, so we're not satisfied with just being here. We want to win the game."