NCF Nation: BCS National Championship Game first take
Jan. 7, 8 p.m., (ABC)
Texas take by Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin: The Longhorns nearly played their way out of the BCS title game Saturday night and were fortunate to beat Nebraska in the Big 12 title game.
That narrow victory should provide much emphasis over the next few weeks to the Longhorns, who earned their first BCS title game berth since 2005. Mack Brown’s program has become one of the most proficient in the postseason, winning five consecutive bowl games including three BCS bowl games during that streak.
The Longhorns offensive line struggled mightily against Nebraska’s defensive front, producing a season-low 18 rushing yards and allowing nine sacks against the Cornhuskers. It will be another challenge against Alabama’s defense studded with defensive All-Americans Rolando McClain and Javier Arenas and mammoth run-stuffer Terrence Cody. The game will also feature offensive starpower with Heisman contenders Colt McCoy of Texas and Mark Ingram of Alabama.
The Longhorns streaked to their first Big 12 title since 2005 thanks to an offense keyed by McCoy’s passing talents and a deep collection of receivers. It will be a challenge for them to make yardage against an Alabama defense that led the nation in pass efficiency defense and scoring defense and ranks second in rushing defense and total defense. In order to be successful in the title game, the Longhorns will have to show improvement over their struggling performance in the Big 12 title game.
Alabama take by SEC blogger Chris Low: It took Nick Saban all of three years to build Alabama’s program back to national championship contention. The Crimson Tide are right where they expect to be after sweeping through the regular season unbeaten for the second straight year, and this time, finishing it off with a 32-13 demolition of Florida.
This is an Alabama team that’s every bit as physical as it was a year ago, but even more diverse offensively. Junior quarterback Greg McElroy showed how diverse by carving apart Florida’s vaunted defense in the SEC championship game. The convincing 19-point win over the Gators was easily the Crimson Tide’s most complete performance of the season.
Saban has already started to send the message to his team through the media that no matter how well Alabama played in its conference championship game and how shaky Texas was in its conference championship game that this isn’t a “David vs. Goliath” affair. In other words, don’t look for the Crimson Tide to get caught sleeping no matter how big a favorite they are in this game. They will be ready.
Alabama’s defense is one of the best in the country, and Saban’s a master when he has this much time to scheme up a team. But Texas has a pair of assistants on its staff that know his system extremely well. Saban has called Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp one of the best assistants that he’s ever had. Muschamp, the Longhorns’ head coach-in-waiting, was Saban’s defensive coordinator at LSU and was also with Saban on the Miami Dolphins’ staff for a year. Texas assistant head coach/running backs coach Major Applewhite was Saban’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Alabama during Saban’s first season in Tuscaloosa in 2007.
Florida take by SEC blogger Chris Low: It's hard to imagine two hotter offenses, and for that matter, two hotter teams.
Simply, it's the game everybody wanted to see. Well, everybody but Texas. Florida (12-1) and Oklahoma (12-1) meet on Jan. 8 in the kind of high-octane FedEx BCS National Championship Game that mesmerizes even the most casual college football fan.
The Gators have won nine straight games by an average margin of 36.4 points, and the folks in Gainesville believe Tim Tebow deserves his second straight Heisman Trophy with his 28 passing touchdowns and 12 rushing touchdowns.
The Sooners have won seven straight games, setting an NCAA record by scoring at least 60 points in their last five games. The folks in Norman believe Sam Bradford is the rightful winner of the Heisman Trophy with his 4,463 passing yards and 48 touchdowns.
Florida would appear to have the edge on defense, but Big 12 proponents would argue that the Gators have run up inflated numbers against a long list of SEC offenses that were horrible this season.
But, then, the next time anybody in the Big 12 plays any defense might be the first.
Let the debating, arguing and analyzing begin.
Jan. 8 in Miami can't get here soon enough.
Oklahoma take by Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin: All season long, Oklahoma has been driven by its recent bowl disappointments.
Some of that determination was forged by embarrassing back-to-back BCS bowl losses. It's part of a losing streak of four-straight BCS bowl games for Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops.
The Sooners battled back from a midseason loss to Texas that many thought would doom their chances of playing for the BCS national title this season. But they've erupted with a record-breaking offense that has piled up at least 61 points in each of their last five games.
Sam Bradford and his talented array of offensive weapons will be challenged by a Florida defense that ranks no worse than 16th in any of the major four team defensive statistical categories. The Gators have a big, mobile defensive front that will test Oklahoma's mammoth front.
The Sooners have struggled defensively at times this season before coming up with several strong performances down the stretch to enable them to claim the Big 12 title. Despite allowing more points than any previous defense in the Stoops era, the Sooners have shown a knack for producing big plays, ranking first nationally in turnover margin, third in sacks and eighth in tackles for losses.
It will be the first time that Stoops has ever coached against Florida, where he served as Steve Spurrier's assistant before coming to the Sooners.
A national championship would enable Stoops to regain some of the "Big Game Bob" stature he's lost in recent seasons. It's why he's driven for this championship more than any other.