(1) Alabama vs. (2) Texas
Tonight the Alabama Crimson Tide look to extend the SEC’s streak of National Championships to four with a win over the Texas Longhorns. Led by Heisman Trophy running back Mark Ingram, and a roster littered with pro prospects, the Crimson Tide are pretty strong favorites tonight over the Longhorns. Don’t count Texas out just yet, the year before the SEC started this National Championship run (2006), the Longhorns were big underdogs to the USC Trojans, and ended up beating them in overtime.
Texas might not have the weapons to match up on offense with Alabama, but they do have two very important players, quarterback Colt McCoy and receiver Jordan Shipley. Both players are seniors, and both players lack top end skills for their positions, yet get by on the smarts and experience. The biggest question for Texas is which McCoy is going to show up? The one who dominated all season, or the one who struggled against Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship game. I think for Texas’s sake we will see more of the former, and quite a bit less of the latter. I think McCoy will have a big game tonight, and will make plays with his legs as well as his arm. The McCoy and Shipley connection can keep them close on offense, but the real question is if the Longhorns defense can slow down the Crimson Tide.
The short answer is ‘not likely’, as the Tide have a very balanced offensive attack. In addition to Ingram, they have weapons at tight end and receiver as well as depth at all those positions. Quarterback Greg McElroy might not be as highly rated as McCoy, but he had an excellent season and always came through in the clutch. While Texas has a pretty good front 7 on defense, their secondary is pretty weak and I think they will be exploited a couple of times tonight. Usually the Longhorns rely on their pass rush, but the Tide have done a great job keeping McElroy upright this season. While I believe that Texas will be able to move the ball on Alabama’s defense and keep the game close, I think the Crimson Tide will make a couple of key defensive stops and that will be the difference in the game. Alabama 31-24.