Why I Think Tide Wins Against Texas

Tonight's national championship game shapes up as one of the best games in college football history. It has two historically outstanding college football teams, both undefeated and ranked first and second, and playing in the Rose Bowl. The game has the Heisman Trophy winner, two great coaching staffs, and everything on the line.

Just getting the suspense out of the way, I'm picking Alabama to defeat Texas in the BCS Championship Game. ABC television coverage begins at 5 p.m. PST (7 p.m. central time) with kickoff about a half hour later.

It's well known that I always think Alabama is going to win and I'm almost always right. But that doesn't mean I haven't given some thought to why I think the Crimson Tide prevails. It also doesn't mean that I don't have a concern about the strength of the Longhorns.

During a week in Southern California with daily interviews of coaches and players, practically everything except the competing brands of shoelaces has been analyzed.

Conventional wisdom is that this will be a low-scoring game. There's good reason to believe that Texas will not score a lot. The Longhorns rank third in the nation in scoring, but against two good defenses did not fare well. Texas scored 13 points against Nebraska's seventh ranked scoring defense and 16 points against Oklahoma's eighth ranked scoring defense.

Alabama's defense is ranked second against scoring, and in almost every other defensive statistic. Bama's worst defensive statistic is pass defense, which is a Texas strength. But the Tide's pass defense still ranks eighth in the nation.

Texas' run defense ranks first in the nation, but that seems to be a skewed statistic. Playing in the Big 12, the Longhorns didn't face many good running teams. And it's almost certain Texas hasn't seen a runner like Bama's Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram.

Teams that have loaded up the box to stop Ingram have had to deal with a much improved and much more confident Greg McElroy. The Alabama quarterback has been one of the great success stories in college football this season.

The big fear from an Alabama standpoint is that the Texas offense gets on a roll, has Alabama back on its heels, and the Longhorns' fine quarterback, Colt McCoy, has a big game running and hitting receivers -- the nightmare of Utah in the Sugar Bowl last year.

This, however, appears to be a much more mature, businesslike Crimson Tide than the 2008 edition. Alabama has been tested by fire, beating four teams ranked in the top ten and nine bowl teams.

The ability of Texas Coach Mack Brown should not be underestimated. He has been putting out good teams and good players for a number of years. But the edge in coaching has to go to Nick Saban, probably the best coach in college football today.

If this game is close, as expected, a few plays will likely make the difference. Alabama's strong running game makes the Tide less prone to offensive mistakes. Bama's defense has been up to the task against outstanding teams.

So running, defense, coaching, I make it Alabama 24, Texas 17.

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