Ten reasons Texas will beat Alabama
10. The Alabama pass defense
The Tide finished seventh in the nation against the pass allowing just 164 yards per game while it led the nation in pass efficiency defense. While that sounds impressive, the defense only faced one bomber of a quarterback, Ryan Mallett of Arkansas. While the Hog sophomore started out the season with two great games, this was only his third game with the team (he completed 12-of-35 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown with a pick). South Carolina’s Stephen Garcia had some success, but he couldn’t get his Game****s into the end zone, Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead had a lousy year ('Bama doesn’t deserve too much credit for shutting him down), and Tim Tebow threw for 247 yards. While the Tide secondary is talented, Arkansas was the only team on the schedule ranked in the top 43 among passing teams (the Hogs were ranked tenth). Florida is fifth in the nation in passing efficiency (and Tebow had a decent 120.1 rating in the title game) and Auburn 18th (Chris Todd’s rating was 139.2), but the rest of the SEC teams are ranked 40th or lower. Colt McCoy didn’t have his most efficient season, and he struggled against Nebraska throwing three picks, but he’s too good to come up with another clunker.
FOX SPORTS POLL Who will win the BCS title game? Alabama Texas
9. The Texas run defense
Texas finished No. 1 in the nation in run defense, allowing just 61 yards per game, and gave up just five touchdowns. Only three teams got over 85 yards on the ground while Oklahoma finished with -16 net, Nebraska came up with just 67 and UTEP, led by star Donald Buckram, finished with just nine. Alabama has to be able to run well to win, and it has to be able to dominate with the offensive line. Florida could be shoved around if punched in the mouth a bit, while Texas is more physical up front.
8. Terrence Cody isn’t Ndamukong Suh
It’ll be tempting to assume that Cody, 'Bama’s terrific defensive tackle, will start rag-dolling the interior of the Texas offensive line just like Suh did in the Big 12 title game. But Cody and Suh play two different games and Texas will be facing a far different line. Suh is more of a playmaker and a pass rusher who works well in open space, while Cody is a space-eater who anchors the rest of the defense. Cody doesn’t have a sack on the year and has just six tackles for loss on the season; Suh had seven tackles for loss in one game against the Longhorns.
Yes, it’s a different year and there are different circumstances, but the 'Horns can learn a lot from the 2009 Sugar Bowl. Alabama was down after the loss to Florida in last year’s SEC Championship, didn’t have Andre Smith at tackle, and didn’t appear to be interested from moment one, but Utah had a lot to do with the butt-kicking. The Utes came out with an up-tempo offense, was in a great rhythm from the start, and sold out on defense to get into the backfield. The Longhorns have the best pass rush 'Bama has faced, and that includes Ole Miss, and while they’ve been great at getting into the backfield all season long, they got better as the season wore on with 20 sacks in the final five games along with 42 tackles for loss. Granted, there was only one sack and four tackles for loss against Nebraska, but there wasn’t any need to get to the quarterback of an attack that managed just 106 yards of total offense. Like Utah of last year, Texas has a senior quarterback who knows what he’s doing, a dangerous receiving corps, and the potential to come out storming.
6. The Heisman factor
Teams full of 18-to-22-year-old kids always go for the easy motivation, and when they have a prize of a Heisman winner to stop, and with weeks to prepare, they tend to shut down the star and/or get the win in the bowl. The trend doesn’t lie. 2008 Heisman winner – Sam Bradford, Oklahoma. Loss to Florida. 2007 Heisman winner – Tim Tebow, Florida. Loss to Michigan. 2006 Heisman winner – Troy Smith, Ohio State. Loss to Florida. 2005 Heisman winner – Reggie Bush, USC. Loss to Texas. 2004 Heisman winner – Matt Leinart, USC. Win over Oklahoma. 2003 Heisman winner – Jason White, Oklahoma. Loss to LSU. 2002 Heisman winner – Carson Palmer, USC. Win over Iowa. 2001 Heisman winner – Eric Crouch, Nebraska. Loss to Miami. 2000 Heisman winner – Chris Weinke, Florida State. Loss to Oklahoma. Going back further, the Heisman winners rocked in the 1990s, but in this decade they’re just 2-7 in bowl games and 1-6 in national championships. Of course, Alabama knows this and Mark Ingram should be ready, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to be a marked man.