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2010 BCS Championship - Texas vs. Alabama
Bama RB Mark Ingram & Texas QB Colt McCoy
Bama RB Mark Ingram & Texas QB Colt McCoy
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 6, 2010


Texas vs. Alabama ... it just FEELS like a really big game, and it's the biggest battle of the 2009 season as the two megapowers square off for the national title. Can Colt McCoy be enough to bring Mack Brown his second title, or can Mark Ingram break the Heisman jinx? Check out the preview and prediction for the 2010 BCS Championship Game.


 

2010 BCS Championship

Alabama (13-0) vs. Texas (13-0)


Pasadena, CA, Jan. 7, 8 pm, ABC

Scroll Down For Bowl Histories & Best Moments

- Free Expert Football Predictions For This Game 
- Get Tickets For The BCS Championship

Team Pages and 2009 Season
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- 2009 CFN BCS Champ. Preview
- 2008 CFN BCS Champ. Preview
- 2007 CFN BCS Champ. Preview
National Rankings
A   T
32nd Total Offense 16th
2nd Total Defense 3rd
25th Scoring Offense 3rd
2nd Scoring Defense 8th
12th Rushing Offense 55th
2nd Run Defense 1st
83rd Passing Offense 18th
8th Passing Defense 25th
5th Turnover Margin 8th
Position Ratings
relative to each other
A 5 highest
1 lowest
T
3.5 Quarterbacks 5
5 RBs 3
4 Receivers 4.5
5 O Line 3
5 D Line 5
5 Linebackers 4
5 Secondary 5
5 Spec Teams 5
5 Coaching 5
BCS Championship History
2009 Florida 24, Oklahoma 14
2008 LSU 38, Ohio State 24
2007 Florida 41, Ohio State 14
And to think, had Hunter Lawrence missed his bomb of a boot in the Big 12 Championship, you’d now be reading the breakdown of the Alabama vs. Cincinnati BCS Championship matchup.

After Boise State and TCU played a mediocre game (with a little bit of excitement thrown in at the end), and after Florida decided to start the 2009 season in 2010 with its dismantling of the Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl, everything has played out perfectly for the BCS lovers (and there are one or two out there, and they’re weird) to claim that the system worked. But it doesn’t take a college football die-hard to know that Texas vs. Alabama just sounds big-time.

At the highest of levels, only the SEC, Ohio State, USC, Oklahoma, and Texas have really mattered over the last decade. Sprinkle in a Miami at the beginning of the 2000s and a Boise State throughout and there have been a few stray teams here and there sparking some interest, but really, the sport has been about those four teams and their ability to try to crash the party the SEC has been throwing.

USC never really had a chance, spending most of its time dealing with the Big 12 big boys and blowing up the Big Ten. Ohio State tanked in one shot against the SEC and was overmatched in the other, and Oklahoma waged two nice battles but came out on the wrong side against LSU and Florida. Now it’s time for the Longhorns to see if they can crack the code.

For Texas, a 2010 BCS Championship win would finally mean Mack Brown deserves to be respected by one of the greats among college coaches and not just a phenomenal recruiter who had Vince Young. A win would settle some unfinished business after last year, and it would allow the school to make a claim of having the Program of the Decade.

Fair or not, Texas has sometimes been defined as much for what it hasn’t been rather than for all the success. There have been several key losses to prevent Big 12 titles, and Oklahoma might have owned the conference for most of the decade, but a win would give Texas a peerless résumé with an amazing eighth bowl win in the last nine years (the one loss a brain cramp to Washington State in the 2003 Holiday Bowl), a fourth BCS game win in four tries, and a whopping 111th win in the last ten seasons. Most importantly, it would be a second BCS Championship, which would put the Longhorns in the club with Florida and LSU on the list of multi-title winners in the new format.

And then there’s the issue of last season. While Alabama’s journey might have peaked with the dominant SEC Championship win over Florida this season, the Big 12 Championship for Texas might have been just a jumping off point. After missing out on beating Missouri for last year’s title, edged out by Oklahoma in a strange tie-breaker, Texas finished last year with a sense of emptiness along with a desire to come back roaring. The team was one dropped interception followed by an all-timer of a play by Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree from playing Florida in the BCS Championship, and this year has been all about getting a chance to show what might have been. Obviously it was a new year and a new team, but Texas spent the entire season playing a wee bit tight just to get to this point with all the pressure on to not just win the Big 12 title, but to get to the national title game. While Florida did the same thing, gagged in the SEC Championship, and then relaxed and showed what it could do against Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl, as the underdog, Texas might finally be able to let its hair down since it has finally arrived at its destination. In a strange sort of way, the pressure might be off Colt McCoy and the rest of the players; now this is the fun time.

Of course, the pressure is on for Brown, who’s looking to join Joe Paterno and Dennis Erickson as the only coaches currently in college football (until Urban Meyer returns) with two unquestioned national titles (with Pete Carroll getting a half a title, the AP version, which doesn’t matter in the new BCS age, to go along with his 2004 championship). And Saban is going for his second, too.

Amazingly enough, considering how mighty the two programs are, this the first time Alabama has played Texas since a 14-12 Longhorn win in the 1982 Cotton Bowl, and it has been a whopping 17 years since the Tide last won a national title. For Saban, a victory would make him a national title winner at two schools, would cement him as an Alabama legend, and would end a the Point B to Point C process the program needed to go through after making excellent strides under Mike Shula.

There’s pressure at big-time college football programs, and there’s what Saban has had to go through. After leaving LSU for the Miami Dolphins, and floundering with no talent to work with, he came to Alabama to restore the glory after years of NCAA sanctions, underwhelming teams, the bailing of Dennis Franchione to Texas A&M, and the Mike Price fiasco. He was brought in to do a job, was paid a record amount to do it, and he did it faster and better than the biggest Bama fans could’ve ever dreamed possible. While a loss to Texas wouldn’t be a disaster considering the Tide appears to be just scratching the surface on how good it’s going to be under Saban, it would catch many by surprise after the Florida win.

25-2 over the last two years with two unbeaten regular seasons, Alabama has been dominant at times, fortunate in others, and just plain good throughout. There have been some rough patches, but Saban’s team has been able to create its own breaks and was able to sidestep several landmines to get to this point. There are no signs of slowing down any time soon.

Last season, Oklahoma and Florida each had a loss coming into the title game, but they overcame their blemishes by obliterating everyone else in their respective paths. This year, Alabama dominated Florida, but it also needed everything in the bag to beat Auburn, needed two blocked kicks to beat Tennessee, struggled for a while against Kentucky and South Carolina, and had a fight on its hands against LSU. Meanwhile, Texas should’ve lost to Nebraska (and it did, according to many Husker fans), got ripped up in a shootout win over Texas A&M, sputtered against Oklahoma, and was generally above-average in a bad Big 12. It’s not like these two teams are the be-all-end-all compared to recent national championship contenders, but they’re the best we’ve got in 2009.

Texas might turn out to be the program of the decade and Alabama appears to be the program of the next decade, but for now, this is just a game between the two best teams in a so-so year for college football. Yeah, it would be nice to have a playoff, but yeah, fine, the BCS actually got it right.

Players to Watch
: Vince Young was a great college football player, but he didn’t become Vince Young until he came up with his all-timer of a performance to beat USC. Colt McCoy has been a great college football player, and now he’s going to need an all-timer of a performance to beat Alabama.

McCoy holds the record for the most wins by a starting quarterback, but it wasn’t until this season that he finally broke through and brought his team a Big 12 title. While he had one of the worst games of his career in the win over Nebraska, he did lead the offense into a position for the game-winning field goal, as ugly as the drive might have been. The Texas running backs aren’t going to do jack-squat against the Alabama run defense, meaning that McCoy is going to have to be razor-sharp from the start, he’ll have to make quick, accurate decisions on the short to midrange passing game that has made him so successful, and he’ll have to carry the Texas offense with his legs as well as his arm. An excellent runner who became more of a pocket passer this year by design, this is the game to turn it loose. This is when he needs to be the Colt McCoy of last year and do more running, make more things happen on the move, and start bombing away like it’s the last game of his college career. Tim Tebow showed what he could do in his curtain call, and don’t be shocked if McCoy is just as focused and just as effective.

Of course, Alabama and Mark Ingram have spent the last month hearing about the Heisman-winner curse when it comes to the national title. Past Heisman winners like Sam Bradford and Reggie Bush weren’t awful in their national title game efforts, but their teams lost. Texas will focus everyone and Bevo on stopping the Bama ground game and that starts with Ingram, who overcame an injury against Auburn to roll to a Heisman-clinching 113 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Florida.

Ingram is used to being the center of the defensive attention, and it hasn’t mattered much when teams focus on stopping him because 1) the offensive line has dominated so much throughout the year and 2) he really is that good. Texas has the nation’s No. 1 run defense, partly because it’s talented and partly because no one in the Big 12 can run the ball, and while Ingram might be held in check because Texas will have to sell out to stop him, that means it’ll be another chance for Greg McElroy to win yet another game he’s not supposed to.

Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will give McElroy several looks he hasn’t seen before, and the schemes will change play by play. McElroy won’t have to do anything too fancy and he’ll have to be careful against the athletic, ball-hawking Longhorn secondary, but he’ll have to be sharp at taking what the defense gives him. That might mean a big day for Ingram as a receiver out of the backfield, it might mean taking a few deep shots to Julio Jones, just to see what works against the Longhorn safeties, and it might mean putting the ball in the fifth row to live to fight another day. McElroy doesn’t have to outplay McCoy, that’s not his job, but he does have to connect on a few big plays to keep the Texas back seven from teeing off on Ingram, and he has to stay calm against the Texas pass rush.

Texas will win if ... McCoy works the entire field, spreads out the Tide D, and isn’t afraid to take a few midrange chances. He doesn’t have to hit any home runs; the Bama defense doesn’t get loose. However, McCoy has to be able to keep the offense moving and keep the Tide on its heels, and even on the plays that don’t work, the offense has to hurry up, let McCoy make a quick presnap read, and let him have just enough time to find a second receiver. Getting on the move would be a plus as that seems to play better to his baller mentality and tends to provide a bit more of a rhythm to what Texas likes to do.

However, while Texas has to establish a quick tempo and has to find its groove early on, one of the biggest keys will be to simply limit the number of plays Alabama runs. Time of possession and keeping the chains moving might mean everything for a Texas defense that’s been terrific on third downs all season long and is a brick wall when fresh. Alabama, in a perfect world, grinds out games with its ground attack, comes up with several manageable 2nd and 3rd down chances, and is able to mix things up to set up the big plays. Bama ran the ball 53 times in the blowout of Florida and ran 41 or more times in each of the first six games, but it ran 30 times against Tennessee in the 12-10 struggle and just 35 times against Auburn, the two lowest attempts of the year and the two closest calls.

Alabama will win if ... McElroy doesn’t worry about interceptions. No, he probably can’t throw three picks if Alabama wants to win this game, but he can’t be afraid to take some chances and he’ll have to rely on his defense to clean up a few mistakes. Muschamp will fool McElroy a few times, but that doesn’t mean the Alabama offense should stop spreading the ball around. No, McElroy isn’t McCoy, but he’s every bit as good, or at least every bit as effective, as Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, who was able to combine with Sam Bradford (before getting hurt) to throw for 327 yards on the Longhorn D. Taylor Potts of Texas Tech threw for 420 and three scores, and Texas A&M’s Jerrod Johnson threw for 342 yards and four scores. Outside of the Nebraska game, which took on its own life, those were UT’s three close calls and they just so happened to be the three games that the D gave up the most passing yards this year. No one else came close to throwing for 300, and neither will McElroy, but 250 effective yards might be enough for the win.

Defensively, the Tide has to sell out to get to McCoy. The Texas offensive line is the one major weak link in this game, and while Bama might not have to do anything crazy to get into the backfield, coming at McCoy from all angles and all sides could end this quickly. Oklahoma was able to sack McCoy four times, while Nebraska, thanks mostly to Ndamukong Suh, came up with seven sacks. Those were McCoy’s worst two games of the year, and while he’ll be able to get the ball out of his hands in a hurry and he’ll pick up most of the blitzes, he won’t have time to find his second and third options, which is when he’s most deadly. Texas won’t get much production, if any, out of its running backs, so if McCoy isn’t special, the confetti will be raining down on the Tide.

What will happen: McCoy will be special. Lost in the SEC Championship debacle was that Tim Tebow really wasn’t that awful; he didn’t get anything out of his receivers. Tennessee’s Jonathan Crompton was able to move the offense through the air, and South Carolina’s Stephen Garcia had a nice game and got the offense in a position to score several times before struggling to close. McCoy is a smarter passer than anyone Bama has seen all season long and he’ll come up with over 300 yards of total offense.

Alabama players and coaches have been saying they understand the recent history of the 1 vs. 2 matchups, and they seem to be well-prepared, but there’s a reason that the “underdogs” end up playing so well in the BCS Championships. For one, they’re in the national championship, so, duh, there’s some semblance of talent in place and the team must be doing something right. Second, yeah, there is a wee bit of the hunger factor. Alabama prepared for an entire year for Florida after its gut-wrenching loss, while Texas still has been preparing for this game ever since it lost the 2008 Big 12 South tie-breaker.

More than anything else, Texas is good. That might seem obvious, but it’s a fact lost on many after what happened against A&M and Nebraska. Alabama isn’t faster than the Longhorns, it isn’t more talented, and it doesn’t have a major advantage anywhere but on the O line, and that’s where McCoy should make the difference. Because of the problems up front, Texas will make McCoy roll out more, get him moving more, and have him take off more than he has done all season long, and after a few drives, that should keep the Tide back just enough to provide the time needed to get the passing game working. Don’t expect a Vince Young Pasadena moment, but expect many to want to change their Heisman votes.

CFN Prediction: Texas 23 … Alabama 19 ... Line: Alabama -4

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Best Longhorn Bowl Moment: With all due respect to its recent thrilling comeback wins over USC and Michigan in the Rose Bowl, nothing defines the Texas bowl experience more than the Cotton Bowl, home to almost half of the program’s bowl destinations. Arguably the most rewarding of those trips to Dallas was in 1970, when the ‘Horns came from behind twice in the fourth quarter to beat a Notre Dame team that was ending a 44-year self-imposed bowl-moratorium. The win, No. 500 in school history, cemented UT’s second national title.

Best Crimson Tide Bowl Moment: With an NCAA-record 57 invites and 31 victories, you can make a credible argument for about a dozen different games. By a sliver, the nod here goes to the 1979 Sugar Bowl over the 1993 Sugar Bowl. Both produced national championships, but the 14-7 win over top-ranked Penn State more than a quarter century ago featured an epic, game-saving goal line stand from the ‘Bama D that’s etched in the memory of everyone that witnessed it.

Texas Bowl History (25-21-2)
2009 Fiesta Texas 24, Ohio State 21
2007 Holiday Texas 52, Arizona State 34
2006 Alamo Texas 26, Iowa 24
2005 Rose Texas 41, USC 38
2004 Rose Texas 38, Michigan 37
2003 Holiday Washington St 28, Texas 20
2003 Cotton Texas 35, LSU 20
2001 Holiday Texas 47, Washington 43
2000 Holiday Oregon 35, Texas 30
1999 Cotton Arkansas 27, Texas 6
1998 Cotton Texas 38, Miss State 11
1996 Fiesta Penn State 38, Texas 15
1995 Sugar Virginia Tech 28, Texas 10
1994 Sun Texas 35, North Carolina 31
1990 Cotton Miami 46, Texas 3
1987 Bluebonnet Texas 32, Pittsburgh 27
1985 Bluebonnet Air Force 24, Texas 16
1984 Freedom Iowa 55, Texas 17
1983 Cotton Georgia 10, Texas 9
1982 Sun North Carolina 26, Texas 10
1981 Cotton Texas 14, Alabama 12
1980 Bluebonnet North Carolina 16, Texas 7
1979 Sun Washington 14, Texas 7
1978 Sun Texas 42, Maryland 0
1977 Cotton Notre Dame 38, Texas 10
1975 Bluebonnet Texas 38, Colorado 21
1974 Gator Auburn 27, Texas 3
1973 Cotton Nebraska 19, Texas 3
1972 Cotton Texas 17, Alabama 13
1971 Cotton Penn State 30, Texas 6
1970 Cotton Notre Dame 24, Texas 11
1969 Cotton Texas 21, Notre Dame 17
1968 Cotton Texas 36, Tennessee 13
1966 Bluebonnet Texas 19, Mississippi 0
1964 Orange Texas 21, Alabama 17
1963 Cotton Texas 28, Navy 6
1962 Cotton LSU 13, Texas 0
1961 Cotton Texas 12, Mississippi 7
1960 Bluebonnet Texas 3, Alabama 3 
1959 Cotton Syracuse 23, Texas 14
1957 Sugar Mississippi 39, Texas 7
1952 Cotton Texas 16, Tennessee 0
1950 Cotton Tennessee 20, Texas 14
1948 Orange Texas 41, Georgia 28
1947 Sugar Texas 27, Alabama 7
1945 Cotton Texas 40, Missouri 27
1943 Cotton Texas 7, Randolph Field 7 
1942 Cotton Texas 14, Georgia Tech 7
Alabama Bowl History (31-22-3)
2009 Sugar Utah 31, Alabama 17
2007 Indepen. Alabama 30, Colorado 24
2006 Indepen. Oklahoma State 34, Alabama 31
2005 Cotton Alabama 13, Texas Tech 10
2004 Music City Minnesota 20, Alabama 16
2001 Indepen. Alabama 14, Iowa State 13
1999 Orange Michigan 35, Alabama 34
1997 Music City Virginia Tech 38, Alabama 7
1996 Outback Alabama 17, Michigan 14
1994 Citrus Alabama 24, Ohio State 17
1993 Gator Alabama 24, North Carolina 10
1992 Sugar Alabama 34, Miami 13
1991 Blockbuster Alabama 30, Colorado 25
1990 Fiesta Louisville 34, Alabama 7
1989 Sugar Miami 33, Alabama 25
1988 Sun Alabama 29, Army 28
1987 Hall of Fame Michigan 28, Alabama 24
1986 Sun Alabama 28, Washington 6
1985 Aloha Alabama 24, USC 3
1983 Sun Alabama 28, SMU 7
1982 Liberty Alabama 21, Illinois 15
1981 Cotton Texas 14, Alabama 12
1980 Cotton Alabama 30, Baylor 2
1979 Sugar Alabama 24, Arkansas 9
1978 Sugar Alabama 14, Penn State 7
1977 Sugar Alabama 35, Ohio State 6
1976 Liberty Alabama 36, UCLA 6
1975 Sugar Alabama 13, Penn State 6
1974 Orange Notre Dame 13, Alabama 11
1973 Sugar Notre Dame 24, Alabama 23
1972 Cotton Texas 17, Alabama 13
1971 Orange Nebraska 38, Alabama 6
1970 Bluebonnet Alabama 24, Oklahoma 24
1969 Liberty Colorado 47, Alabama 33
1968 Gator Missouri 35, Alabama 10
1967 Cotton Texas A&M 20, Alabama 16
1966 Sugar Alabama 34, Nebraska 7
1965 Orange Alabama 39, Nebraska 28
1964 Orange Texas 21, Alabama 17
1963 Sugar Alabama 12, Ole Miss 7
1962 Orange Alabama 17, Oklahoma 0
1961 Sugar Alabama 10, Arkansas 3
1960 Bluebonnet Alabama 3, Texas 3
1959 Liberty Penn State 7, Alabama 0
1953 Cotton Rice 28, Alabama 6
1952 Orange Alabama 61, Syracuse 6
1947 Sugar Texas 27, Alabama 7
1945 Rose Alabama 34, USC 14
1944 Sugar Duke 29, Alabama 26
1942 Orange Alabama 37, Boston College 21
1941 Cotton Alabama 29, Texas A&M 21
1937 Rose California 13, Alabama 0
1934 Rose Alabama 29, Stanford 13
1930 Rose Alabama 24, Washington State 0
1926 Rose Alabama 7, Stanford 7
1925 Rose Alabama 20, Washington 19