No. 2 Texas Longhorns (13-0 SU, 5-7-1 ATS) vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson
Tide (13-0 SU, 8-5 ATS), BCS National Championship Game, 8:10 p.m. EST, Thursday, January 7, 2010, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif., TV: ABC
by Badger of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Texas +5/Alabama -5
The top two teams in the nation will clash for all the marbles January 7th to determine this seasons BCS Champion, when the No. 1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide play the No. 2-ranked
Texas Longhorns in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
Whether or not this is “thee “matchup everyone around college football wants as the 2009 national title game is debatable, mostly due to how
each of these teams comes into this bowl game following their
respective conference title games.
For the Tide, they come in as the undefeated top-ranked team in the land after dominating the previous No. 1 and defending champion Florida Gators in the SEC Championship, 32-13. Running back Mark Ingram added 113 yards and three touchdowns to his Heisman Trophy
winning season, the Tides defense made Tim Tebow cry, and head coach
Nick Saban and his Tide will roll into the title game as a heavy favorite.
Meanwhile, the Longhorns struggled mightily against the 9-4 Nebraska
Cornhuskers in the Big 12 Conference Championship game, winning
because of a somewhat controversial call at the end that allowed
Texas kicker Hunter Lawrence to hit a game-winning 46-yarder as time
expired for a 13-12 victory. Thanks to an added extra second on the
clock and Lawrences calm nerves head coach Mack Brown will be
coaching in another title game and quarterback Colt McCoy will get to
end his Longhorns career playing for the big crystal football.
As expected, Alabama opened this game as solid favorites and
oddsmakers opened the point spread at 5.5-points. The opening 5.5
number has stood up and can still be found at a few sportsbooks in
Las Vegas and offshore, but a majority of the Internet sportsbooks
have dropped the line to Bama minus -5 points with a few -4.5s as well.
The over/under total opened at 44.5 and a few books still list that
as the total on their boards, but most of the offshore sportsbooks
have moved the total up the hook to 45.
The fact that these two teams both made it into the BCS Championship
game is no coincidence, as both teams feature prolific offenses,
solid kickers and special teams, backed up with championship caliber
Both offenses rely heavily on one player to be the workhorse, with
Ingram and McCoy being those players for their respective teams.
Ingram leads a Bama attack that is a classic pro-style offense, one
that prefers to grind out yards play after play behind a mammoth
offensive line to the tune of 215.8 yards a game. When you average
6.2 yards a carry, as Ingram did throughout the season, why would you
mess with success.
But just when you start creeping an eighth man into the box to stop the run, quarterback Greg McElroy (2,450 yds., 17 TD, 4 INT) drops
back on play-action and finds either Julio Jones (573 yds., 4 TD,
13.6 ypc) or Marquis Maze (519 yds., 2 TD, 17.3 ypc) in a one-on-one
situation down the field.
The Longhorns snap the ball to McCoy in the shotgun of their spread-attack and let him either: throw the ball (3,512 yards; 279.7 ypg),
or run the read-option in the running game (152.6 ypg). McCoy has
some nice weapons around him, like Jordan Shipley (1,363 yds., 11 TD)
and Tre Newton (5.0 yards per carry, 6 TD), but its no secret the
senior quarterback is the offense, leading them to the nations 3rd-
best scoring mark on the season (40.7 ppg).
Both offenses will have their work cut out for them though, because this game is going to end up being all about the two top-10 defenses that are among the stingiest in the game.
Bamas defense put up unbelievable numbers for a team in the ultra-
tough SEC, finishing the year allowing just 241.8 yards a game (2nd
in country) and ended as the nations top scoring defense allowing
just 11 points per game. But Texas has a defense that can match Bama
athlete-for-athlete, finishing the season right behind the Tide
ranked 3rd overall (251.1 ypg) and 8th in scoring (15.2 ppg).
If the defense has their way, this game could hinge on who passes the
ball better, which is a clear advantage to Texas. Both defenses have
been impossible to run on this season (Texas 1st 62.3 ypg; Bama 2nd
78.1 ypg), but if one finally gives, it could cost them the
Texas and Alabama have not met on the field in recent history,
despite being two of the more storied college programs in the era.
Another intangible to consider when handicapping this game is the
fact that both Texas coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp and offensive
coordinator Major Applewhite both coached under Bama coach Nick
Saban. Muschamp was with Saban at LSU, while Applewhite got his first
coordinators job from Saban at Bama in 2007. Im not saying its
going to make a difference, but if both of your coordinators worked
against the enemy you can guarantee their will be plenty of mind
games and scheming to outscheme the opponent in this game for added
Badgers Pick: If this game were right away, I think Alabama would run away with it. But instead we have 33 days between the conference
title games and the BCS title game, which gives Texas plenty of time
to prepare. Likewise for Bama. Without a strong feeling for either
side, Im going to put my money on the under because both of these
defenses are too good for this game to get too far out of hand. Take
the under of 45.