Players and coaches won't be the only ones fighting jitters when Alabama and Clemson play for college football's national championship.

The bands will feel it, too.

Though they've played in front of large crowds before and rehearsed plenty, the glare of the spotlight from the entire sports world watching can be a bit unsettling.

"I think you get nervous when you walk into a dome or a stadium and feel how huge it is compared to what it looks like on TV," said Sarah Horton, a sophomore piccolo player in Alabama's band. "But once you get on the field, it's business as usual. You've done this a million times and you better not get scared because you still have to do it."



Alabama's Million Dollar Band is no stranger to big events.

The band, in its 103rd year, has joined the Crimson Tide football team at the national championship game four times in seven years, won the Sudler Award _ the band version of national champions _ in 2003 and performed in exhibitions all over the country.

But most of the group in the desert this week was not around for the last big show; Alabama last played in the title game in 2012, so most of the band members are going through this for the first time.

Monday night's game will cap a three-day whirlwind of rehearsals and performances by the full band and smaller pep bands.

Because the trip was so far, the larger instruments like percussion and tubas had to be sent out on trucks midweek, preventing the band from rehearsing until after arriving in Arizona on Saturday.

On Sunday morning, the full band of about 400 members went through a 2 1/2-hour rehearsal at a local high school. The pep band headed from there to the Phoenix Convention Center for a performance while the rest of the band went back to Talking Stick Resort.

The full band reconvened at the convention center for a rally and the pep band went straight from there to another performance before returning to the hotel for dinner.

Championship Monday included a two-hour rehearsal in Scottsdale and a tailgate performance outside the stadium before finally heading in for the game.  Once inside, the Million Dollar Band slips back into its comfort zone, playing its pre-game show then sharing a halftime performance with the Clemson band.

"It's a lot, but we had some free time so we don't get too stressed out about the whole week," said Lena Paradiso, a sophomore member of the color guard.