Ten Is A Reason For Tide Incentive

On numerous occasions since the end of regular season play and the start of preparation for the Capital One Bowl, Alabama players and coaches have been questioned about the motivation for the Crimson Tide a year after playing and preparing for the national championship.

This is not a championship team. Alabama failed to defend its national championship, Southeastern Conference title, and even the SEC Western Division crown. The only title the Crimson Tide can have this year is Capital One Bowl champion.

Alabama will play Michigan State in Orlando's Citrus Bowl Stadium at 1 p.m. EST (noon central) Saturday.

Alabama does have some incentive. The Crimson Tide, of course, will extend its NCAA record for bowl appearances as this will be Bama's 58th bowl game. Alabama will actually put a little air between one and two as previous number two, Texas, is not bowling this year. The Longhorns stay stuck on 49 bowls, equaled this year by Tennessee.

Alabama can move into first place alone in bowl victories with a win over the Spartans. Alabama and Southern Cal are both at 31 in bowl wins. Actually, both have 32 on-the-field bowl victories, but the NCAA has forced both teams to vacate one bowl win -- Bama for players getting extra books, USC for a player getting to live in a mansion. The Trojans are not bowling this year, so the Tide will be no worse than continued tied for first in bowl wins.

Could a win move Alabama into the nation's top ten in the final Associated Press poll after all games are played? That looks like too big a hill to climb, but so much has been made of the Bama-Michigan State game being equal to a BCS level game, a convincing victory might do it. Michigan State is 11-1 and ranked seventh in the nation going into the bowl games. Bama is 9-3 -- the highest ranked team with just nine victories.

It is that nine victory level for Bama that is part of Saturday's incentive. Players and coaches have talked about getting to 10 wins.

Alabama and Oklahoma went into the 2010 season with both programs having recorded a nation's best 30 ten-win seasons. Oklahoma has already improved to 31 with its 11-2 season.

The Tide is going for its third consecutive 10-win season under Coach Nick Saban. After his first season with the Tide, Saban's teams have gone 12-2 in 2008 and 14-0 last year.

This has been an unusual year in college football, as has been pointed out by numerous national sports reports. The normal big names of college football are not in the national championship picture. None of the top ten teams in history with undefeated and untied regular seasons are in that category this year, or even in the national championship picture. This isn't like 2009 when two of the magnificent teams of college football -- Alabama and Texas -- were undefeated and untied and playing for the national championship.

And just for the record, the team with the most undefeated and untied regular seasons? Alabama with 17, followed by Oklahoma with 12.

Getting to the 10-win mark this year could pay dividends later. First of all, winning the final game puts a good feel into the team as the coaches hit the recruiting trail and the players head into the winter off season program and spring practice. And when pre-season polls begin to emerge following the spring, it helps to be as highly ranked as possible to get a start on the next national championship run.

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