BCS National Championship Game
Texas Longhorns vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
January 7, 2010, 7pm Central
Network: ABC/ESPN Radio
I’m the first to admit that I’m biased when it comes to the Texas Longhorns. But after countless hours spent reading online articles, blogs, and forms, watching sports broadcasts, and listening to podcasts, I’m having a hard time predicting tonight’s outcome.
Part of that is because both teams have been inconsistent this year. Everyone talks about Texas’ close game with Nebraska because it was the most recent game. The Texas offense was essentially shut down in that game and against Oklahoma. And the Texas defense was totally absent for the Texas A&M game.
Don’t forget that if Tennessee had a halfway decent field goal kicker, Alabama wouldn’t be in the championship game. And that they barely slipped by a four loss Auburn team. But when Alabama struggles, people say that is just what happens in the SEC.
Still, on paper Alabama is the better team. Their offense is solid, with a very effective running game. Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram is naturally the focus, but not much is lost when his backups come in to spell him.
Quarterback Greg McElroy was great against Florida, but has been a caretaker most of the season. Look for Texas to load up against the run and dare him to throw against their outstanding defensive back core. Earl Thomas and company will be sitting back waiting to make some interceptions.
The best news for the Texas offense is that Ndamukong Suh will not be anywhere on the field. The Alabama defensive line is top to bottom better than Nebraska’s, but they don’t have a game changer like Suh. Terrence Cody is a beast, but doesn’t move well, and can be designed around.
Which means you have to deal with the Alabama linebackers, who are simply amazing. Rolando McClain appropriately won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker. He may be the second best defensive player in the country after Suh.
The Alabama defensive backs are very good, but if McCoy has a little time, he can find the holes. Other than Javier Arenas, it’s not clear that Bama has anyone that can cover Jordan Shipley. If we get them in a mismatched coverage, the result could be a very big play.
On special teams, both teams have great return men, and questionable coverage. The game may well be won or lost in this phase.
While the tangible factors certainly lean Alabama’s direction, the intangibles go to Texas.
Of the seven Heisman Trophy winners that have played in a BCS championship game, six have lost. This is likely due all the distractions of winning. Ingram has spent a lot of time the last month with the press and media, rather than on the practice field. If he does not have at least a decent game, Alabama is in a lot of trouble.
The BCS underdog has won seven of the last eight BCS championship games. That statistic is either extremely significant, or the BCS selection process is incredibly flawed. Or both.
For the last month, the press and media has been telling Alabama just how good they are. They were clearly focused on beating Florida in the SEC Championship, and after achieving that goal, they may start believing their press clippings.
And for that same last month, Texas has been told they don’t belong in the championship game. Angry teams win football games.
Given the two defenses in this game, it’s going to be low-scoring and close. Vegas set the over-under at 46, which is silly. Total points scored will be under 40. Anyone predicting a blow-out is bound to be disappointed.
I expect the game to go down to the wire, and the winning margin to be less than a touchdown. And I like Texas’ chances in the game. With a couple of big plays in special teams and/or defense, look for the BCS trophy to be hoisted by someone in burnt orange.