No Surprise As It's Tide Vs. Texas

The historic, Biblical exception notwithstanding, the smart money would be on Goliath against David. In any event, Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban is making a pre-emptive strike against the Crimson Tide being labeled the overwhelming favorite to win the national championship.



Sunday evening, to the surprise of no one following college football, it was announced that Alabama was ranked number one in the Bowl Championship Series and would play against number two Texas in the national championship game. Bama and the Longhorns will play on January 7 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. ABC televises the game, which kicks off at 5 p.m. PST (7 p.m. central, 8 p.m. eastern).

Both teams are 13-0 and coming off victories in their league championship games. The Crimson Tide romped over Florida, 32-13, in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, while Texas overcame Nebraska, 13-12, with a 46-yard field goal as time expired in the Big 12 title contest.

Alabama was number one in the Harris Poll and Coaches Poll and in the computer determinations that go into the BCS rankings and is also number one in this week's Associated Press poll, which is not a part of the BCS. Texas is number two.

"Texas is a great football team," Saban said shortly after the announcement of the game. "They have a quarterback who may be the best in the country and who might win the Heisman Trophy and they have a great defense."

Saban will warn his players that every time they hear they are better than Texas that "they are being set up. The other team wouldn't be in the championship game if they weren't pretty good and they are going to want to win that game."

The Tide coach had good things to say about two Texas assistant coaches who are members of the Texas staff. He said Will Muschamp, the Texas defensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting, was as good an assistant Saban has had. Muschamp coached under Saban at LSU. Saban said Major Applewhite is a good assistant coach whom Saban expects to be a head coach one day. Saban downplayed any advantage that might come for either team because of past relationships, noting that there is a month until the game. "Both teams will know eveything about each other," Saban said.

Saban, who won a BCS national championship as head coach at LSU, said, "Great moments are created by great opportunities. Our team has created a great opportunity."

A day after his team dismantled defending national champion Florida, Saban was still beaming over the Crimson Tide's performance. "It was a great win," he said. "I'm proud of our team. We played with a lot of character. It was a wonderful, wonderful win."

Saban said that when the Bama coaching staff was trying to determine players of the game on offense, it was decided that the award would go to all of the offensive players. "It was as fine an offensive performance as I've seen in a long time against a defense as good as Florida's."

The coach said all year the Tide "has been able to make the plays need to win games."

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy has had an outstanding career for the Longhorns. On Sunday he said, "We found a way to win" against Nebraska. "I'm thankful we have one more shot."

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