2007 Independence Bowl - Bama vs. CU
Alabama WR D.J. Hall
Alabama WR D.J. Hall
Posted Dec 20, 2007

Alabama will try to avoid back-to-back losing seasons, and a total collapse over the second half of the year, in the 2007 PetroSun Independence Bowl against Colorado. On the other side, the Buffs will look to keep the turnaround going under Dan Hawkins by beating D.J. Hall and the Tide.

Colorado (6-6) vs. Alabama (6-6)

Dec. 30, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

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- 2006 CFN Independence Bowl Preview
WhatIfSports.com Independence Bowl Prediction & Box Score 

2007 Independence Bowl History, Each Team's Best Bowl Moments, & More

National Rankings
Colorado Alabama
Total Offense
72nd  377 ypg 75th  372.58 ypg
Total Defense
64th  389.42 ypg 28th  341.17 ypg
Scoring Offense
63rd  27.58 ppg 65th   26.83 ppg
Scoring Defense
78th  29.42 ppg 29th  21.83 ppg
Run Offense
63rd  150 ypg 60th  150.67 ypg
Run Defense
32nd  127.67 ypg 34th  128.25 ypg
Pass Offense
56th  227 ypg 60th  221.92 ypg
Pass Defense
101st  261.75 ypg 39th  212.92 ypg
Turnover Margin
83rd  -0.33 32nd  0.33
Col St W 31-28 OT
at Ariz St L 33-14
Florida State L 16-6
Miami Univ. W 42-0
Oklahoma W 27-24
at Baylor W 43-23
at Kans St L 47-20
Kansas L 19-14
at Tex Tech W 31-26
Missouri L 55-10
at Iowa St
L 31-28
Nebraska W 65-51
W Carolina W 52-6
at Vandy W 24-10
Arkansas W 41-38
Georgia L 26-23 OT
Florida St  L 21-14
Houston W 30-24
at Ole Miss W 27-24
Tennessee W 41-17
LSU L 41-34
at Miss St
L 17-12
UL Monroe
L 21-14
at Auburn L 17-10
Position Ratings
relative to each other
C 5 highest
1 lowest
3 Quarterbacks 3.5
4 RBs 3.5
2.5 Receivers 4
3.5 O Line 3.5
3 D Line 4
3.5 Linebackers 4
2.5 Secondary 4
4 Spec Teams 3
4.5 Coaching 4

Last year at this time, Alabama was coming off a disastrous second half of the season with four losses in five games and yet another loss to Auburn. Looking to turn things around in the Independence Bowl, the Tide got down, came up with a late rally, lost 34-31 to Oklahoma State on a late field goal, canned head coach Mike Shula, got turned down by everyone and their sister to take the gig, overpaid to get Nick Saban, started off the year 6-2, collapsed with a four-game losing streak, complete with yet another loss to Auburn, and is back in the Independence Bowl.

(Catch your breath)

While Bama is hoping for a win to stop the slide in the bowl for misfit, mediocre big conference teams, Colorado is looking at this as a step in the journey back to greatness. The Buffaloes are rebuilding after the swift and painful end to the Gary Barnett era, and unlike the Tide, rallied late with wins over Texas Tech and Nebraska in the final month to get here. This might be seen as a disappointing bowl for an Alabama team that was dreaming of Chick-fil-A or, with a few big breaks, a New Year's Day game when November started, but this is a great reward for Colorado coming off a 2-10 2006.

Colorado showed glimpses of the program it could become under head coach Dan Hawkins with a stunning 27-24 win over Oklahoma, a nice road win over Texas Tech, and a 65-point offensive explosion against Nebraska to get the bowl bid. However, the team was way too inconsistent in November with horrible performances in losses to Missouri and Iowa State. With most of the starters back next year, getting the extra practice time and the extra game is vital. The same goes for Alabama.

To be fair to the Tide, this is also supposed to be a rebuilding season with Saban expected to lead the way to bigger and better things over the next several years. However, for a team that lost to Mississippi State and UL Monroe in back-to-back weeks, and with an offense that went bye-bye, this will be a long, long offseason if Bama can't come away with the win.

A loss would get the Tide faithful buzzing about whether or not QB John Parker Wilson is the man for the job going into 2008. There will be issues as far as Saban's game preparation, whether or not he's worth the high price tag, and what the future will bring if next year isn't night-and-day better. Of course, as always happens in the bowl season, a win will be seen as the official start to a new year when hope springs eternal.

As the lone bowl game of the day, it should be a worthwhile watch if recent history is any indication. Seven of the last eight Indy Bowls have been decided by seven points or fewer with six of then decided by four points or fewer. Alabama played nine games decided by a touchdown or less, while Colorado has played five, so these two well coached, relatively even teams should play a good 60-minute battle.

Since the bowl started its regular tie-in with the SEC, the league has gone 10-1 with last year's Bama loss breaking the string of seven straight wins over the Big 12 in the game. 

Players to watch: When John Parker Wilson gets time and has consistent help from the running game, he's effective. After throwing three touchdowns in back-to-back weeks against Tennessee and LSU, Wilson struggled with one touchdown and five interceptions in the three game losing streak while completing fewer than half his passes against Mississippi State and Auburn. A two-year starter, the time is now to make the team truly his, needing a huge game and a win end any debate going into the offseason.

On the other side, this is key step in the maturity of Colorado redshirt freshman Cody Hawkins, the coach's son, who has a decent arm and a decent command considering his overall inexperience. He cut down on his interceptions as the year went on, throwing just one in the final four games after pitching 14 in the first eight games. With little in the way of mobility, like Wilson, Hawkins needs protection to be effective.

The quarterbacks might get the spotlight, but the stars are on the defenses. Colorado's undersized tackling machine of a linebacker, senior Jordon Dizon, made 336 career tackles and finished second in the nation this year with 149 including a whopping 107 solo stops. While he can rush the passer, his job is to patrol against the run and keep short pass plays from bursting into home runs. While he's tough as nails and always brings his man down, he can be knocked around by any offensive lineman on the move.

For Alabama, its defensive tone-setter has been sophomore Rashad Johnson, a huge hitting safety who led the team with six interceptions and 81 tackles. The former running back isn't all that big, generously listed at 6-0 and 186 pounds, but he throws his body around without a problem and has to be accounted for on every deep pass play across the middle.

Colorado will win if... RB Hugh Charles gets going. Colorado's offensive line has been decent in pass protection, but the Tide defensive front will generate more than its share of pressure in the backfield unless Charles is pounding the ball. While he's a smallish speed back, he can be a bit of a workhorse with good receiving hands as a bail out option for Hawkins. Alabama doesn't have a dynamic offense and it's not likely to be consistent, so if Charles gets everyone focusing on him, and if Hawkins can get the ball out of his hands quickly to neutralize Wallace Gilberry and the Bama pass rush, the Buffs should be in control.

Alabama will win if... Wilson takes what's given to him. He'll get 19 days to throw with Colorado's anemic pass rush unlikely to cause a problem, and even with talented corner Terrence Wheatley needing to be accounted for, the secondary will give up a slew of big plays. The temptation will be there to bomb away and hope D.J. Hall, Matt Caddell and Keith Brown can to use their size advantage to outmuscle their way past the smallish Buff corners. All Wilson needs to do is keep the chains moving, make most of his third down throws, and not turn the ball over. Alabama has the better defense and the better all-around skill talent, but if Wilson stinks, it won't matter.

What will happen: Colorado will be plucky, hoping to be more physical on both sides of the ball and hoping to force a few mistakes. Alabama might be reeling after the way the final month went, but with time off to regroup, the team that almost beat LSU will likely show up with an opportunistic offense and a D that'll keep the Buffs from consistently stringing together long scoring drives. Saban will show that this really is a new era, and Alabama will make a bit of a statement to get the fan base riled up for the next eight months.

Line: Alabama -3.5 ... CFN Prediction: Alabama 30 ... Colorado 17

2007 Independence Bowl History, Each Team's Best Bowl Moments, & More