Thursday, January 07, 2010
I Got Mixed Up Confusion, Man It's a Killin' Me
I have two competing thoughts in my head about the game tonight. On the one hand, the Zeitgeist surrounding this game is that Alabama is a clear favorite and shouldn't have too much trouble with Texas because Saban's defense will eat the Texas offense alive. This thinking comes from the recent success of SEC teams in national title games, along with the performances of the two teams in their conference title games. The former factor seems like a legitimate one, but the latter screams of a recency problem. Yes, Alabama looked great against Florida, but they were one game removed from escaping by the skins of their teeth on the Plains. This Alabama team is not a juggernaut like '08 Florida; their offense is too inconsistent for me to be confident that they'll roll tonight. To go all Herbstreit on you, Texas will be the team with a chip on its shoulder tonight. Also, Mack Brown has an epic record in close games and this game seems like it will be tight based on the fact that both teams have outstanding defenses and hit-or-miss offenses.
On the other hand, have we reached the point where an SEC/Big XII matchup in the title game should be viewed in the same way that an AFC/NFC matchup in the Super Bowl was in the late 80s and early 90s? Probably not because the sample size isn't as big and Texas is 1-0 in title games and 3-0 in BCS Bowls. However, I can see the analogy working. Alabama was tested this season. They played their best games on neutral fields against Virginia Tech and Florida, both of whom are better than any team that Texas played. Alabama coming through the SEC and vanquishing Florida and LSU is not unlike the 49ers coming out of the NFC after vanquishing the Giants, Redskins, and Bears. Playing Texas won't be novel for Bama, but the converse is not true. It also occurs to me that Bama has seen offenses like Texas's because there are plenty of spread-y teams in the SEC, but Texas has not seen an offense like Bama's (unless you count Nebraska and the Huskers are so bad on offense that they can't possibly count).
Anyway, I've talked myself into a quandary. If you put a gun to my head, I'd take the Tide in a close game tonight, but I'm one of those people who believes in the randomness of the universe and thus doesn't put a lot of stock in predictions. I'll just say that I've enjoyed the BCS games this year because they have been somewhat old fashioned, defensive games (after watching Michigan's abortion of a defense for 12 games, you can see why I'd feel that way) and I'm looking forward to a better version of the same tonight.