Teams: Alabama (13-0, No.1) vs. Texas (13-0, No.2) Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California; Seating Capacity: 94,000 (roughly). Kickoff 7:38 p.m.
National Championships for each team (split polls): Alabama (12), Texas (9)
Last National Championships: Texas (2005); Alabama (1992).
Alabama:Nick Saban (138-67-1; 15 seasons; 67 percent winning percentage); one national championship (2003, LSU); three SEC titles; one Heisman Trophy winner: Mark Ingram (2009).
Texas: Mack Brown (215-100-1, 26 seasons;68 percent); one national championship (2005, Texas ); two big 12 titles; one Heisman Trophy winner: Ricky Williams (1998).
Key players: Alabama:
Offense: Mark Ingram (rb, 5'10", 215 soph.) 1,542 yards rushing, 6.2 ypc, 15 tds; Greg McElroy (qb, 6'3", 220, jr.) 192-314-2450 yards, 17 tds, 4 ints. 61 percent comp; Trent Richardson (rb, 5'11", 220 frosh) 669 yards rushing, 5.1 ypc, 6 tds; Julio Jones (wr, 6'4", 210 soph.) 42 receptions, 573 yards, 4 tds; Colin Peek (tend 6'6", 255, sr.) 26 receptions, 313 yards, 3 tds; Mike Johnson (offensive tackle, 6'6", 305, sr.).
Defense: Rolando McClain (lb, 6'4", 258, jr) 101 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss,4 sacks, 2 ints. Mark Barron (safety, 6'2", 215, soph.) 70 tackles, seven ints; Javier Arenas (cb, 5'9", 198, sr.) 66 tackles, 12 for loss, 3 ints.; Terrence Cody (dt, 6'5", 365, sr.) 25 tackles, six tackles for loss.
Punt returns:Javier Arenas: 29-474,16.3 average, 1 td, 66 long; kickoff returns: Arenas 19-551 29 average, 61 long.
Lee Tiffin 29-33 fgs made, 88 percent, 50 long; punting P.J. Fitzgerald 42.1 average, 55 long.
Key Players: Texas
Offense: Colt McCoy (qb, 6'2", 210, sr.) 330-468-3,512 yards, 27 tds, 12 ints. 70 percent comp.; Jordan Shipley (wr. 6'0", 190, sr.) 106 receptions, 1,363 yards, 11 tds; James Kirkendoll (wr, 5'11", 180, jr.) 48 receptions, 461 yards, 6 tds; Dan Buckner (wr, 6'4", 215, soph.) 44 receptions, 445 yards, 4 tds; 'Tre Newton (rb, 6'0", 200, frosh) 102-513 yards, 5 yards per carry, 6 tds.
Roddrick Muckelroy (lb, 6'2", 235, sr) 96 tackles, 11 for loss, one int.; Earl Thomas (db, 5'10", 197, soph) 71 tackles, 8 ints for 149 yards; Sergio Kindle (de-lb. 6'4", 255, sr.) 62 tackles, 18 for loss, 3 sacks.
Alabama Offense vs Texas defense: The Texas rush defense is No.1 in the country, so they've got to be pretty good, though it's kind of relative as they play in the pass happy Big 12. We'll see how Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson fare. The Alabama offensive line will be tested by the big Texas defensive line led by defensive tackle Kheeston Randall. William Vlachos and company will have to be ready.
Texas is second nationally in overall defense. Alabama's Greg McElroy was up and down some of the year, but saved his best two games for the end of the season completing 21-31 for 218 yards and two tds against Auburn, including a phenomenal late game drive culminated by McElroy's game winning four-yard td pass to Roy Upchurch. McElroy also had a clutch td pass to Colin Peek in that game.
Against Florida, he was even better, completing 12-18 for 239 yards including a beautiful td pass to Peek. But, more importantly, his mastery of the game was incredible. This could be the key in this game: if Ingram and Richardson can't get it done, can McElroy win it through the air? Look for Peek to play a big role and Ingram with screen passes. Julio, of course, will be a factor as will the talented Marquis Maze. Edge: Even
Texas Offense vs Bama defense: Colt McCoy has had a great career, but in one of the biggest games of his career against Nebraska, he flopped almost losing the game at the end, getting saved by his field goal kicker. The Nebraska defense was awesome and so is Alabama's. Rolando McClain–assuming he gets over his stomach virus which he should be, he'll play anyway–will be all over the field. The Alabama defensive line can get pressure and there will be a lot of blitzes and mixed up coverages, sometimes five, six defensive backs. There will be a ton of pressure on McCoy. How he handles it and executes in the passing game will determine Texas's fate.
Edge: Alabama; by a lot.
Special Teams: Javy says enough. P.J. Fitzgerald is solid and Leigh Tiffin is solid most of the time. Jordan Shipley is an explosive punt returner with 2 tds. Hunter Lawrence is 22-25 on FGs with a clutch 46-yarder that bailed Texas out against Nebraska. Justin Tucker averages 40 yards per punt. Edge: Even
Coaching: Nick Saban and his staff are the best in the country at preparing their team. Mack Brown is a great recruiter and great CEO. Will Muschamp is a great d coordinator and Greg Davis is a fine oc. Look for the defenses to play well on both sides. Kirby Smart is outstanding and the defense should be terrific in this one and throw Greg Davis for a loop. Offensive coordinator Jim McElwain will have to figure out a way to outcoach Muschamp.
Analysis: It's an exciting national championship matchup between two storied programs. Who knows what the layoff does for each team offensively. I think Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and the other playmakers are better than the Texas' playmakers. Alabama's defense is better, just ask Tim Tebow. I always like Javy returning kicks and punts; he can break one any time and should be amped up for this one. Texas is very talented, but Alabama just has more talent at positions throughout the starting 22. Alabama's talent advantage and coaching advantage will allow the Crimson Tide to prevail and capture the national championship.
Prediction: Alabama 24, Texas 14.