The Don Says…

In Sports

By Adan Vasquez
Daily Titan Sports Editor

Alabama’s Greg McElroy (left) and Nick Saban (right) could be celebrating for a second time on Jan. 7, 2010, when they meet Texas in the BCS National Championship Game. Photo Courtesy MCT.
Alabama’s Greg McElroy (left) and Nick Saban (right) could be celebrating for a second time on Jan. 7, 2010, when they meet Texas in the BCS National Championship Game. Photo Courtesy MCT.

Not since 2005 has there been a more anticipated BCS National Championship Game. Nor has there been a matchup of undefeated teams.

When the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide take the field against the No. 2 Texas Longhorns on Jan. 7, 2010, in Pasadena, Calif., that’s exactly what the nation will be tuning in to see.

Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide will go into the game looking for its first national championship since 1992.

The Longhorns have had more recent success, winning what many consider to be the greatest championship game in the history of college football when they defeated Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and LenDale White’s USC Trojans behind the scrambling legs of Vince Young.

So what can the college football world expect when these two traditional powers meet on the gridiron? Well for one, don’t expect the fireworks that 2005 brought us.

This one has the makings of a defensive war, similar to what we saw in last season’s title game between Florida and Oklahoma.
Saban’s brand of football is always strong on the defensive side of the football, and this team is no different. The Crimson Tide will boast the nations second-ranked defense behind linebacker Rolando McClain.

Their offense, ranked No. 35 in the country, may not be that impressive on the stat sheet, but they did dismantle the previous No. 1 Florida Gators in the SEC Championship game 33-13, thanks in large part to the breakout performance by running back and Heisman Trophy candidate Mark Ingram, who ran for 113 yards and three touchdowns.

The Texas Longhorns are no slouch by any means. The nation’s second-best team, that spent the majority of the season ranked third behind their title game opponent and Florida, boasts its own impressive credentials.

Mack Brown’s squad comes in with the country’s third-ranked defense, and some guy on the offensive side of the football named Colt McCoy who just so happens to be college football’s winningest quarterback of all-time with a 43-7 record as a starter.

Ranked No. 20 in total offense this season, the Longhorns do possess a more potent attack, thanks in large part to McCoy’s arm, but they should not be expected to explode on Alabama.

Both teams head into the title game having had their fair share of close games and down-to-the-wire finishes. Luck played a huge part in both squads reaching every team’s dream.

Alabama looked more impressive throughout the season until it ran into Lane Kiffin’s Tennessee squad. But Terrence Cody blocked a field goal that would have ended their title dreams, and kept their perfect season intact with a 12-10 victory.

The Auburn Tigers also gave the Crimson Tide a scare in their Iron Bowl battle. Down 21-20 late in the fourth quarter, quarterback Greg McElroy helped keep his team perfect with a tenacious drive down the field, capped by a four-yard touchdown pass and a 26-21 victory.

The Longhorns didn’t face much adversity throughout the season, blowing out nearly every single one of their opponents. But they did get a mild scare from Texas A&M in 49-39 shootout.

However, Nebraska pushed them to the brink in the Big 12 Championship game Saturday. Texas was supposed to walk all over the Cornhuskers on their way to the national title game, but it was anything but easy from the start.

Trailing 12-10 in the last few seconds of the game, a McCoy’s pass sailed out of bounds as time expired, and Nebraska players began to celebrate what looked like the season’s upset of the season. But then the referees stepped in, reviewed the play, and graciously added one more second to game clock – enough time for Texas to kick the game winning field-goal and preserve their spot opposite Alabama.

Each team comes in with something to prove to the nation: that its close calls were nothing more than upset alerts and not their real identity. While it may be true, it may apply more to Texas, who poses more of an offensive threat than Florida did.

The Crimson Tide must once again go up against one of college football’s greatest quarterbacks of all-time in back-to-back games, and although they passed test number one in Florida’s Tim Tebow, McCoy presents them with more of a threat all over the field, as he can not only beat them running the football, but also has something Tebow is not necessarily known for – his arm. And it’s an impressive one too.

McCoy clearly offers more in this matchup than Tebow and the Gators did against Alabama – running the quarterback nearly every time, or running his famous “jump pass” becomes predictable after so many times.

McCoy will move the ball on Saban’s vaunted defense, quite possibly hang up over 200-yards passing, a couple of touchdowns and keep them on their heels throughout the entire game, but it may not be enough come Jan. 7.

Alabama is too balanced offensively for Texas with Ingram in the backfield and Julio Jones roaming through defensive secondaries. If McElroy can emulate his performance against Florida or simply take care of the ball with minimal mistakes, then McClain and the Crimson Tide defense should be able to hold the Longhorns just enough to bring the Coaches Trophy back home to the Dirty South.

If Nick Saban sticks with Alabama and doesn’t flirt with the idea that he may be – incorrectly – successful in the NFL, then the Crimson Tide could turn into college football’s next powerhouse program. Again.

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