BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
I said there would be a position by position breakdown, and, being a man of my word, it is coming. But first, let’s take a look back at how they got here. Both navigated tricky and difficult conferences without blemish and won games both by blowout and by margins so slim they make Manute Bol look fat. I think few would argue that these teams are deserving of their spot in the Championship and, though some would rather see TCU, even they would agree that neither Texas nor Alabama is undeserving of their spot in this game. Alabama has the Heisman trophy winner (we will delve into whether that is good or not in a bit) and Texas has the winningest QB in the history of the NCAA (look it up, or just click the link). So what gives? That is why they play the games, but I guess if you really can’t wait, we can break it down like Usher. First Alabama Offense vs. Texas Defense, then switching it up.
Alabama Offensive Line vs. Texas Defensive Line
Both of these units are outstanding and, as always, the line play will go a great distance toward deciding the game, but as far as I am concerned this is more or less a draw. obviously, if one side dominates this matchup it will give their teams much better shot to win, but I cam calling this one a draw.
Mark Ingram vs. Texas Front 7
Obviously this is more a question of if they can contain him than stop him. When a guy averages 200 yards from scrimmage per game you slow him, not stop him. But can Texas do that? I actually think they can. I cannot really call it an advantage for the Longhorns, but clearly the key to stopping Alabama is slowing down Mark Ingram. I think the Tide can keep Ingram to 200 yards from scrimmage (his average remember) and it will be a plus if they can.
Greg McElroy vs. Texas Secondary
I think this is a very clear advantage for the Longhorns. McElroy had some momentum going after the Auburn winning drive and the SEC Championship Game, but as far as I’m concerned you throw out momentum after 32 days. Momentum has an expiration date, and that is around 3 weeks. That is good or bad momentum, it all goes away because coaches have more time to fix things, players aren’t dwelling on their recent mistakes, and no one is in a groove. Throw out the momentum and what do you get? An excellent secondary vs. a just ok QB. Advantage Texas D.
Alabama Offensive Playmakers vs. Texas Defensive Playmakers
“Alabama Offensive Playmakers” is a fancy way of writing Julio Jones since we already covered Ingram, but Texas has a lot of playmakers on defense including AP 1st Team All-American Safety Earl Thomas, Sergio Kindle, and a host of other athletic and talented players on the defensive side of the ball. Also, keep an eye out for Trent Richardson, the backup running back for Alabama. He has outstanding burst and is a great change of pace who could give Texas trouble. In case you haven’t noticed, you should be expecting heavily defensive football when they settle this on the field.
Can I stress their importance enough? NO. Special Teams is the third phase of the game, not an extra and superfluous aspect, but a key, vital aspect, especially in close games. There is a reason that Frank Beamer, an excellent Head Coach, has preached special teams for years and has won doing so. They are of the utmost importance to winning. So whohasan advantage there? Both teams have outstanding kickers, so we can call that even. Both teams have solid punters, so we can call that even. This takes us to the return game. Chicago Bears fans already know this, but having a great kick returner can help immensely. Even if they do not kick to him, they are giving away some field position. Alabama has a bona fide playmaker in Javier Arenas who could be the key to an Alabama win. He is electrifying at cornerback and while returning punts and Texas will almost definitely kick away from him, making the margin of error far smaller for Will Muschamp’s defense. Advantage Alabama.
Time to change it up like Johan Santana.
Texas Offensive Line vs. Alabama Defensive Line
Have you seen Terrence Cody? If you have watched a down of defensive football for Alabama this year, I can tell you that you have seen him. He is the mountain of a man occupying two blockers and preventing most inside runs. Lucky for Texas they rarely run the ball conventionally (QB under center with RB behind), but I think the outstanding D-Line of Nebraska exposed a few holes in the Texas line. I assume the Texas coaching staff has closed the holes for the most part, but I think Alabama’s D-Line is second only to Nebraska and will be able to get some penetration. I will give the advantage to Alabama.
Texas Running Game vs. Alabama Front 7
The Texas running game is really more of a joint effort between a stable of running backs and Colt McCoy and is not a huge part of their game plan. So while the advantage goes to Rolando McClain and Terrence Cody, it is not such a big deal to Texas.
Colt McCoy vs. Alabama Secondary
Colt McCoy is really good. Alabama’s secondary is really good. I tend to give the advantage to the QB in this type of matchup, but if he is a QB under pressure then the pendulum swings the other way. Do I have any idea? Nope. Let’s call it a draw, but that in itself is a bit of a win for Bama.
Jordan Shipley vs. Javier Arenas
I cannot sufficiently express how much I like Javier Arenas. He has NFL weapon written all over him and is a Devin Hester type return man. However, Shipley is a crafty veteran and a senior playing in his final game, which should not be overlooked. As McCoy’s favorite target, expect them to move him around in the formation so they can get him the ball. I give Arenas the slight advantage, but Texas has a lot of guys who they can throw to.
Texas Offensive Playmakers vs. Alabama Defensive Playmakers
Colt McCoy is the most important playmaker Texas has and his success is tantamount to Texas’ success. However, Alabama has a host of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball with McClain, Cody, Arenas, and Mark Barron. Again, as has become a pretty clear trend, the defense gets the advantage.
Just tallying these up in my head Alabama has a slight advantage, though both defenses look set to shut down the other offense. I started writing this article thinking I was leaning toward Texas simply for the underdog aspect, their overall balance, and their surprise factor. However, after writing this article I find myself leaning toward Alabama. The verdict? I have no clue. It is going to be a great, defensively-driven game with scores no higher than 24. Unlike the horrendous-looking Iowa-Georgia Tech game, I will be glued to my TV for this one. Well it is time to man up and make a pick although I have no idea whatsoever. Texas 19, Alabama 17.
The Heisman curse continues.
Next time: The College Football Awards Show