BCS National Championship
Alabama (-4) vs. Texas
8:30 pm ET
Ten thoughts and questions on this game – the more I think about it the more confused I get:
1. As a Michigan fan I am haunted by the thought of Texas playing in Pasadena. Two years in a row – 2005 and 2006 – Texas won absolutely epic games in he Rose Bowl. They aren’t playing at home, but they will certainly be feeling confident in this building.
2. The Heisman factor – with surprisingly few exceptions, recent Heisman winners have had rough days and their teams haven’t done great in their bowl games. Six of the seven Heisman winners who have gone on to play in the national championship game have lost it (Matt Leinart is the exception). Will that be a factor for Ingram and the Tide?
3. Has Texas fixed what was troubling them down the stretch? Their last couple of games were far from dominant, and the Longhorns will be in real trouble if they play like that again. On the other hand, we know that they can be better than that, and they have had a long time to practice and fix things – and get healthy – so I’m not sure I am confident using that last game against Nebraska as a measuring stick. Nebraska also came out of that game and looked as good as a team can look against Arizona.
4. Speaking of last games, what can we take from Alabama’s last game given how good Florida looked in their next game? Was Florida going to have a bad game in the SEC Championship game regardless of who they were playing, or was Alabama god enough to shut them down to that extent? If it’s the former then a lot of people are giving the Tide too much credit.
5. Back to Ingram – one of the top running backs in the country (not number one in my mind, but that’s a different debate) is about to run into the top ranked run defense in the country. Both sides can’t have good days.
6. Without a single exception, the top 12 defenses that have played a bowl game so far have had very good days. TCU lost as the top defense, but they still played very well defensively. Many of those defenses have won and have shut down very strong offenses. Based on that, it seems likely to me that neither of these two defenses – the second and third ranked in the country – is gong to have a bad day. If you are betting that one of the offenses is going to have a big day you’d have to have a good reason to justify that belief.
7. Can Colt keep his head? I have a fair bit of respect for McCoy. The one thing I don’t think he does as well as some, though, is handle pressure. Alabama is goingto be able to throw all sorts of pressure at him – they have more blitz looks in their playbook than any team in the country. Or at least it seems like it. Colt and the Texas O-line have a huge task ahead of them tonight. I haven’t yet decided if they are up to it. The same goes the other way, of course – Texas loves to find new and scary ways to blitz, and Greg McElroy doesn’t thrive under pressure, either. The difference in my mind, though, is that I expect a lot more from McCoy than McElroy, and I think that Texas needs more from McCoy than Alabama does from McElroy.
8. Who wants this more? It seems ridiculous to suggest that motivation would be a factor in a game like this, but I am increasingly wondering if it will. Alabama has never played in a national championship game, and hasn’t won a championship for far too long. Nick Saban is hungry to become the first to win for two different schools. Texas’ title is more recent, their coach might not be quite as desperate, and their season hasn’t been particularly magical despite the success. I’m wondering if Alabama believes they are due.
9. Kick returns. Alabama can’t cover kickoffs for some strange reason. Texas has a couple of very nice receivers waiting for kicks. I don’t expect this to be a high scoring game, so this could be a real factor. Along with the quality of quarterbacks I think it’s the biggest edge Texas has.
10. McCoy. Let’s leave off with a guy we have already talked about. If McCoy is the guy that some people (a lot) think he is, then he could single-handedly be the deciding factor. In a different time McCoy would have two Heisman trophies now. Instead, he has two nice trips to New York and nothing to show for them. He probably deserves more than he has gotten given his consistently excellent play, but a national championship would mean that none of that matters. If he can usethat as positive motivation then we could really see something special.