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Re: ROLL TIDE!
5. "Nobody respects us"
This is like a great fastball; you know it’s coming, but you still might not be able to hit it. Alabama has already heard about how it has to guard against overconfidence and has already heard about how Texas is going to feel disrespected. That doesn’t mean that the Longhorns still won’t come out with a little bit of an edge and a little more nastiness than a Tide team that might be thinking deep down that blasting away against Florida decided the real national championship. Alabama made Tim Tebow cry and it’s going to worry about a Texas team that couldn’t stop Texas A&M and couldn’t produce offensively against Nebraska? The other problem might be Nick Saban as the favorite. Under Saban, his underdog LSU team shocked Tennessee in the 2001 SEC Championship, and even with the win, Illinois was still ranked higher going into the Sugar Bowl. LSU won easily. The Tigers lost the 2003 Cotton Bowl to Texas, and then in the 2003 season were a 6.5-point underdog in the 2004 Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma. They won the national title. The next year, LSU was a 6.5-point favorite over Iowa in the Capital One Bowl and lost. Florida was favored in last year’s SEC Championship, but it was ranked fourth in the BCS while Bama was No. 1 (the Gators won), and the Tide was an 11-point favorite against Utah in the Sugar Bowl (and lost). This year, as the underdog against Florida in the SEC title game the Tide pulled off the win. Got all of that? In the biggest of the big games, Saban, with the higher-ranked team and as the favorite, won the 2007 Independence Bowl over Colorado and destroyed Georgia in the 2003 SEC Championship. But the track record hasn’t been strong when he’s coaching the team that’s supposed to get the win.
4. Colt McCoy is better than Greg McElroy
Can McElroy do it again? The late drive for the win over Auburn appeared to have sparked his confidence and he was magnificent against Florida completing 12-of-18 passes for 239 yards and a score. But now the Longhorns will get time to prepare for him. It’s not like the Florida game was a fluke; McElroy was strong against Virginia Tech, Arkansas, and LSU, and he has only thrown one interception in his last six games, but he’s not Colt McCoy. Granted, he wasn’t supposed to be Tim Tebow, either, and he outplayed the Gator star. But McCoy is every bit the winner that McElroy is (he’s the winningest starting quarterback in NCAA history), and he has been phenomenal in the three bowl games throwing for 308 yards and two scores in the 2006 Alamo Bowl win over Iowa, completed 21-of-31 passes for 174 yards in the easy win over Arizona State in the 2007 Holiday Bowl, and completed 41-of-58 passes for 414 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner in the final seconds, to beat Ohio State in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl. He has won all three of his bowl games, threw only one pick, and ran for two touchdowns.
3. Air travel
If you’re a believer in trends and historical tendencies, this one is for you. Non-SEC fans always beef about how the SEC never travels anywhere. Here’s why: 2003: at Hawaii 37 – Alabama 29 2002: Alabama 21 - at Hawaii16 2000: at UCLA 35 – Alabama 24 1991: Fiesta Bowl Louisville 34 – Alabama 7 Since the 1985 24-3 Aloha Bowl win over USC, Alabama has taken a really long plane trip west four times and was 1-3. Yes, it’s a quirky trend, but it shows that the program just isn’t used to going anywhere far. Now compare Bama’s trips to what Texas has done under Mack Brown. 2009: Fiesta Bowl – Texas 24 – Ohio State 21. 2007: Holiday Bowl – Texas 52 – Arizona State 34 2006: Rose Bowl – Texas 41 – USC 38 2005: Texas 25 – at Ohio State 22 (not a West Coast trip, but still a long, tough road game) 2005: Rose Bowl – Texas 38 – Michigan 37 2003: Holiday Bowl – Washington State 28 – Texas 20 2001: Holiday Bowl – Texas 47 – Washington 43 For what it’s worth, Texas is 6-1 on long trips to big games since 2001 and Brown is 2-0 in Pasadena. Speaking of trends …
2. The No. 2 vs. No. 1 thing
Go back to the disrespect factor, call it a quirk, whatever. A trend is a trend is a trend. 2009 BCS Championship – No. 2 Florida over No. 1 Oklahoma 2008 BCS Championship – No. 2 LSU over No. 1 Ohio State 2007 BCS Championship – No. 2 Florida over No. 1 Ohio State 2006 Rose Bowl – No. 2 Texas over No. 1 USC 2005 Orange Bowl – No. 1 USC over No. 2 Oklahoma 2004 Sugar Bowl – No. 2 LSU over No. 1 Oklahoma 2003 Fiesta Bowl – No. 2 Ohio State over No. 1 Miami From 1999 to 2002 the BCS No. 1 beat the BCS No. 2, but the recent trend is alarming. Chalk it up to Oklahoma and Ohio State being overrated, or call it the No. 2 team feeling disrespected, but going 6-1 in the last seven games is a serious streak. Throw in the Heisman factor, and USC really bucked the odds in 2004.
1. Texas really is good
It’s not like this is Oklahoma or Ohio State of the past few seasons and is getting another shot after disappointing America in previous big games, and it’s not like this is Boise State; a great team in a bad conference. The Big 12 might be awful this year, and Texas didn’t exactly extend itself in non-conference play, but this is a loaded team that’s keeping a tremendous roll going. The Longhorns have won 26 of their last 27 games, with the one loss coming on the all-timer of a Michael Crabtree touchdown, and have won 75 of their last 84 games with three of the losses coming to Oklahoma, one to a national title Ohio State team, and two to arch-rival Texas A&M. Under Mack Brown, Texas has nine straight double-digit win seasons with four straight bowl victories. This is one of the powerhouses of all powerhouses, and you don’t get to this point without being really good, and without knowing how to sidestep a few dozen landmines. No longer is this the program full of underachieving talents with a questionable tactician as the head coach. Texas is loaded with a tremendous mix of star veterans and big-time young talents, and they have all the speed and skill of Alabama, all the offensive firepower, all the defensive toughness, and they have the ability to be the national champion. Don’t focus on the Texas A&M and Nebraska games. The real measure of how good this team is might have come in the middle of the season with road stompings of Missouri and Oklahoma State. Those were two of the best four teams in the conference (Nebraska being the other) and the Longhorns won by a combined score of 82 to 21 in games that weren’t even that close. Yes, Texas A&M got hot and got the offense rolling, and Texas still won by double-digits. Yes, it took a slight-miracle of a timekeeping error and a bomb of a field goal to beat Nebraska, but that wasn’t any less shaky than Alabama needing two blocked field goals to beat Tennessee at Home or a big late drive to get by Auburn. Alabama is terrific, and again, next week will be the Ten Reasons Why The Tide Will Win, but don’t just hand the trophy over to Nick and the boys quite yet.
"Before you can win a game, you have to not lose it." -- Chuck Noll