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Cavalcade, Part 2 - Why Bama will win

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 22, 2009


Ten reasons why Alabama will win the BCS Championship, in part two of this week's Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Dec. 22, Part 2

- Dec. 22, Part 1 - The Holiday Wish List

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Ten reasons why Alabama will win the national title. We’ll get into the nuts and bolts of the matchup, like the breakdown of the lines, Texas receivers vs. Bama secondary, etc., later next week in the bowl previews. These are ten non-X-and-O reasons …

10. Texas hasn't faced a running game
Being No. 1 in the nation in run defense is impressive no matter what, and Texas really does have a tremendous defensive front that should come up with a great game plan to slow down Heisman-winner Mark Ingram, but there are more weapons in the Bama arsenal with Trent Richardson and Roy Upchurch able to bring the speed and power to mix things up a bit. Again, what Texas has done stat-wise is noteworthy, allowing just 808 rushing yards and five touchdowns all year, but it's not like Nevada, Navy, and Alabama were on the slate.

Oklahoma State was the best rushing team the Longhorns faced, and while the Cowboy attack was held to 134 rushing yards, Keith Toston ran for 70. The ground game wasn't the reason for the loss; four Zac Robinson interceptions and a 17-0 deficit were. The only other team Texas faced that could even remotely run was Texas A&M, and it gained 190 yards. Texas has yet to deal with a physical line like Bama's, and the same attitude the front five had against Florida should work in Pasadena.

9. The layoff  
The weeks between the final game of the regular season and the bowl appearances generally hurts the teams that rely on timing and precision. All the practice time in the world doesn't make up for game experience, and considering the results were close to disastrous the last time Colt McCoy and the offense were on the field, this is a team that could use a bit of a warm-up.

Last year in the Fiesta Bowl, it took a half before McCoy felt comfortable and stopped spraying his throws around. When he settled in he became unstoppable in the win over the Buckeyes, but Texas could be in big trouble if McCoy isn't hot right away. This is an Alabama team that's first in the nation in pass efficiency defense and seventh overall against the pass. The UT offense relies on the short-to-midrange throws while hoping for yards after the catch, while the Tide back seven is great at sniffing out timing patterns and keeping the big plays to a minimum. Bama allowed more than one touchdown pass just once all year (Auburn), and it took a bit of razzle dazzle to make it happen. If McCoy throws just one touchdown pass, Texas will lose and lose big.

8. The Tide knows the trends
The trend has become so impressive that everyone keeps bringing it up. The No. 2 has won the last four BCS Championships and six of the last seven, and don't think that Nick Saban won't bring this up over and over again over the time between the win over Florida and before running on the field. After what happened to Ohio State in the 2007 championship, and with the way the No. 1 teams other than 2004 USC couldn't get past a fully-focused second-ranked squad, there's a playbook now when it comes to what a team is and isn't supposed to do to get ready for the big game. This might become a motivational plus for the No. 1 team at this point. And it's just a trend created mostly because of Oklahoma and Ohio State being in five of the last six championships.

7. Mack Brown
It should've been the second-biggest moment of his career after the 2006 Rose Bowl win over USC. Texas beat Nebraska to win the first Big 12 championship since 2005 and his second conference title overall. Finally, the Longhorns got over the top again and were kings of the conference, but instead of the win solidifying Brown among the greats in the game, the close shave brought up more questions.

Where was the clock management at the end of the game? Where were the offensive adjustments to give McCoy more of a chance to work? How could the Longhorns be so bad defensively one week against Texas A&M and the offense so awful the next? Brown has always been known as a top-shelf recruiter, and there shouldn't be any complaining about a coach whose teams won 110 games in nine years, but right now, with the lie-detector strapped on, for one game would you rather have Nick Saban pacing the sidelines or Brown?

6. Colt McCoy staying upright
With no running game to speak of, this game will be all about McCoy and what he's able to do. Bama should be dialed in from the start and should be able to come up with a variety of blitzes and various quirks both inside and out that could give Texas fits. Ndamukong Suh led the way with four of Nebraska's nine sacks, Oklahoma was able to come up with four sacks and kept the Texas passing game under wraps. In all, UT allowed 30 sacks on the year while Alabama came up with a solid 31 sacks. If McCoy is under constant pressure, Texas won't be able to throw against the killer Bama secondary, and again, if McCoy can't throw, this will be a long, long game.

5. Alabama in bowl games
If you're a believer in quirky trends, this one's for you. Alabama has developed a pattern over the seven bowl games. After losing the 2000 Orange Bowl to Michigan, the 2001 team beat Iowa State in the Independence. The Tide lost to Minnesota in the 2004 Music City Bowl, and beat Texas Tech in the 2006 Cotton. A 2006 Independence Bowl loss to Oklahoma State was followed up by a win over Colorado in the 2007 Independence. And then there was the debacle in the 2009 Sugar against Utah. To go S.A.T. on you, what's supposed to come next? L, W, L, W, L, W, L ... ? After failing to win a bowl game in eight tries from 1967 to 1974, Alabama won 19 of its last 28, but the loss to break up a run of six wins, and was followed up by a four-game winning streak, came against Texas in the 1982 Cotton Bowl.

4. Texas can't run
Texas might think it can use the time off to design more ways to get the running game going, but it won't matter much against an Alabama run defense that's second in the nation. Unlike Texas, the Tide faced some terrific rushing teams and allowed just 64 yards to Virginia Tech, 74 to Tennessee, and 151 to Auburn. In all, Bama allowed more than 100 yards rushing in just three games and gave up three rushing scores in the final 12. Texas has struggled with its rushing consistency since McCoy became more of a pocket passer and less of a runner, but if the ground game wasn't going before, it's not going to explode on January 7th.

3. The Big 12 sucked, and so did UT's non-conference schedule
The Strength of Schedule doesn't always tell the whole story. Texas finished 14th in the nation while Alabama finished second, however, the Texas non-conference schedule was ULM, at Wyoming, UTEP, and UCF. Granted, there were two bowl teams in the mix, and Wyoming looked strong against Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl win, but it's not like there was anyone worth noting to deal with, and the Horns won those four games by a combined score of 199 to 40. Alabama might have taken it easy against FIU, North Texas, and Chattanooga, but it did its part wit a season-opening win over Virginia Tech.

The best Texas win this year came against Oklahoma State with a 41-14 stomping in Stillwater. However, the Cowboys finished 19th in the final BCS rankings, Nebraska 22nd, Texas Tech 34th, Oklahoma 38, and Missouri 39th. There was only one win over a top 20 team, while Alabama faced three teams, Florida (5), Virginia Tech (11), and LSU (12) who finished in the top 12. In all, Texas beat five teams ranked in the final BCS top 42, while Alabama beat seven. That also means that the Big 12 only had two teams finish in the top 20. This was a down year for the Big 12 considering there were injuries, suspensions, and rebuilding to be done at key places like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Missouri. Texas might have been pushed over the final two games, but this isn't as battle tested a team as Alabama. However ...

2. The SEC
... the SEC, like the Big 12, only had three teams finish in the top 25 of the final BCS rankings. Even so, Bama's victory over Florida was the best win by far that anyone came up with all season long, while the win over Virginia Tech was among the biggest non-conference victories of the season. This was a down year for the SEC, but it was still the top dog of leagues mainly due to the two killers up top. Alabama will finish its season having faced ten teams that went bowling. To be fair, Texas will finish its year having faced nine, but the real story for the SEC is its performance in championship games winning the last three and four of the last six. In fact, the SEC has won ten of its last 12 chances in national championship games with 1982 Georgia and 1995 Florida the only two aberrations. However, this one would be a bit different and a bit more special since it would mark the first time since the 1998 Tennessee Volunteers that the SEC has cranked out an unbeaten national champion.

1. Vince Young plays for the Tennessee Titans
Mack Brown really is a good head coach and Colt McCoy is the winningest quarterback in NCAA history. Texas has cranked out slews of NFL players, has won ten or more games in every season since 2000, and has proven itself time and again to be one of the decade's premier programs. But it didn't get over the top of the mountain until Vince Young came up with an all-timer of a 2006 season.

Forgotten in the euphoria of the 2006 Rose Bowl win over USC was how close Texas came to blowing it. USC outgained UT 574 yards to 556, Matt Leinart threw for 365 yards, LenDale White ran for 124 yards and three touchdowns, and Reggie Bush ran for 82 yards and caught six passes for 95 more. Give credit to the Texas defense for coming up with the big fourth down stop on White to give Young a chance, and then history was made.

Brown recruited Young, which was half the battle, and he and his staff helped develop him into a decent passer after a wildly erratic beginning, but Young was a tremendous talent who put the team on his back with 200 rushing yards and three scores, and 267 passing yards to carry the Longhorns to a national title. He's not around anymore, and it'll be asking a lot for McCoy to create the same type of magic if Brown and the rest of the Longhorns aren't having great games.. It took Young to win a national title in a game when the rest of the team was merely average. Bama will take the passing of McCoy over the dual-threat of Young any day. Can Brown win the really, really big one without VY? Thankfully, we're only a few days away from finding out.

Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa) a.k.a. things I didn’t feel like writing bigger blurbs for.
- The Sugar Bowl is getting more and more interesting. Will Florida really care? Will the team have the mental letdown now that Cincinnati won't have Brian Kelly as its head man? Losing Brandon James takes away a weapon for an offense that can't stand to lose any explosion.
- Speaking of interesting, the Emerald Bowl is becoming the must-see bowl of the pre-2010 games. The Joe McKnight thing is the story, but with three more players missing the game because of academics, Pete Carroll and his staff are getting tested like never before, and USC's performance will be one of the most analyzed aspects of the bowl season. A loss means the wheels are falling off, while an impressive win would show just how much talent the team really does have.
- No more donations to charity in lieu of a Christmas gift. Do both. Don't make me feel like the jerkwad for thinking, "Fine. Whatever," when you send a letter saying my gift is your contribution to the Human Fund. Throw a few cookies my way, too.
- I'll ask you and all the college presidents keeping college football from having a playoff for academic reasons; is there school on Saturday, December 26th? No. First round. Is there school on Saturday, January 2nd? No. Second round. The national championship is being played on January 7th anyway, so you move it to Saturday night the ninth and there's a tight, neat, eight-team playoff that doesn't interfere with any schoolwork.
- And again, because I know I'll get these e-mails, an eight-team playoff doesn't mean Middle Tennessee, Rutgers, and Wyoming wouldn't have been able to have their fun, too. You can do both the bowls and a playoff.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: The out-of-shape former Miami players on The U. … Underrated: Al Bundy
2) Overrated: Former LSU running back coach Will Muschamp and former Alabama offensive coordinator Major Applewhite … Underrated: Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp
3) Overrated: Brian Kelly needing to leave early to recruit for Notre Dame ... Underrated: Jeff Quinn staying around to coach the Bearcats before leaving for Buffalo
4) Overrated: Complaining about being snowed on just before Christmas ... Underrated: Complaining about being too hot in mid-July
5) Overrated: Lack of institutional control ... Underrated: Violation of team rules

Sorry this column sucked, it wasn’t my fault … it's three days before Christmas and I've come to the cold-sweat realization that I bought my wife an impressive array of craptacular gifts. Happy holidays. Really, happy holidays. Enjoy yourself, have fun, take a mental break from the real world for a few minutes, watch a lot of football, eat a lot of food, take a lot of naps, and enjoy the moment. And as always, thank you for reading the self-serving pile of bullmuffins. I promise not to suck as much in the New Year.

- Dec. 22, Part 1 - The Holiday Wish List