Alabama-Texas Goes Tonight

HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

IT'S FINALLY HERE!
ALABAMA-TEXAS GOES TONIGHT!

by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

It's Game 34 of the long postseason slate. College Football's National Championship game is FINALLY here!

Wyoming/Fresno State started us off well before Christmas. Through the holiday...through the New Year...JIM HURLEY has been guiding you step-by-step through one of the craziest and most exciting bowl slates we've seen in ages.

Is there still one more surprise left? Will the year of the upset be capped off by underdog Texas shocking Alabama and taking its second national championship in the last five years? Or, will the Crimson Tide make it FOUR straight titles for the powerful SEC? Florida beat Ohio State three years ago. LSU took out the Buckeyes the following season. Last year, Florida defeated Oklahoma in a hardfought game. We have the Big 12 and the SEC one more time. Let's see what our preview stats have to say about the battle of #1 vs. #2...

BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
TEXAS (13-0) vs. ALABAMA (13-0)
Texas: 20th on offense, 3rd on defense, +12 TO's, 44th schedule
Alabama: 35th on offense, 2nd on defense, +16 TO's, 20th schedule
Las Vegas Spread: Alabama by 4, total of 46
Notebook: We obviously have very similar teams here in the raw stats. You don't think of Texas as being THAT much of a defensive power. You don't think of Alabama's sometimes plodding offense as being that close to Texas. But, the numbers don't lie:

*OFFENSIVELY, Texas has a slight edge in potency, but it came against a weak schedule. We'd venture to say that Texas played something weaker than the 44th ranked schedule now that we've seen the Big 12 in action. Remember that the Horns had trouble scoring on both Oklahoma and Nebraska too. Once you factor in that, these offense drift toward relative equality. Texas passes all the time. Alabama prefers the run. When it all comes out in the wash, the teams are about even.

*DEFENSIVELY, we're now skeptical that Texas really is this high. They faced a lot of shaky offenses this year that people thought would be good but turned out not to be. And, let's not forget that poor showing vs. Texas A&M on Thanksgiving Night. We respect the Texas defense. We don't think it's really third best in the country. If they played in the SEC, it might not be third best in the SEC. Alabama's defense is absolutely for real. Think about what they did to Florida...and then think about what Florida did to Cincinnati. We're going to give Alabama an edge here.

*TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL favors Alabama slightly. But, we'd have to say both teams do a very good job of protecting the ball on offense, and getting takeaways on defense. In a matchup of passing vs. running, that would favor the Tide who have a safer way of moving the ball. Colt McCoy isn't exactly a turnover machine though. Let's call it a slight edge for Alabama.

*STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE shows an advantage to Alabama. We think BOTH the Big 12 and SEC may have been overrated this year in terms of depth. Obviously Florida is great. Many other big name SEC teams laid eggs in their bowl games this season. It was far from the domination we've seen in recent years. The Big 12 had some pure JOKE performances, including blowout losses by Missouri and Texas A&M, and a Three Stooges movie in the form of Oklahoma State's Cotton Bowl loss. Oklahoma barely got by Stanford too. We think both teams had softer schedules than the Sagarin numbers we logged at the beginning of the bowls suggest. We will still give Alabama the edge though because of a non-conference win over Virginia Tech (who played very well in its bowl win over Tennessee).

BCS National Championship 

And we come to the end of the line in college football tonight with Texas-Alabama. One year ago, the Network stood in this same spot and our handicapping team rose to the challenging in delivering Florida (-5.5) over Oklahoma 24-14. Not only that, but we tacked on the total, as the Under 62 cleared by a mile! We're well-prepared to win another Side & Total Parlay on this year's game. Our football people are examining how the run defense of Texas matches up with Mark Ingram. Our on-scene sources are letting us know who's ready to go and who's going to tighten up under the pressure. And Jim Hurley himself is putting it all together into one last monster play to end the season with a slam-bang payoff!

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Add those elements up, and you get Alabama as the superior side. They have the better defense. The offenses are a wash. Turnovers favor them slightly. And, if anything is muddied up because of strength of schedule, that's going to favor Alabama too. They're more likely to be better than their numbers than Texas is.

If that were EVERYTHING, we'd have to call this a pass...or maybe a lean to Alabama at the current line of -4. It's obviously not everything. Also worth considering:

*Alabama is ripe for a letdown because they climbed a huge mountain in Florida the last time out. It's very hard for college teams to get sky high like that two games in a row. Even though all the marbles are at stake tonight, Florida was their Kilimanjaro. Will they be able to execute at peak intensity for 60 more minutes?

*Texas loves the Rose Bowl. They won their championship here with Vince Young a few years ago. All the players have seen game film of that CONSTANTLY ever since. It's the greatest Texas win in recent memory. Nothing about the environment will phase the Longhorns. In fact, these players have dreamed of re-living what Vince and company accomplished. Now they have the chance on the field of their dreams.

*Alabama rarely travels to the West Coast, and will be dealing with a fairly stark switch from what they just went through in Atlanta. They'll be playing outdoors instead of indoors. They'll be the favorite instead of the underdog. They'll be playing with expectations under the glow of the Hollywood lights. We're not saying they'll be unprepared. We're saying they 'might' be...and that's enough to cast doubt on a peak performance.

*Mark Ingram won the Heisman Trophy. Colt McCoy didn't. How is THAT going to affect emotions in this game? You probably know that Heisman winning teams have a very poor history in bowl games. Vince Young didn't win a Heisman either. Reggie Bush did. Will we see deja' vu all over again?

*Alabama's Greg McElroy is a first year starter, playing in his first bowl-type game. Colt McCoy can play big games in his sleep. If either quarterback is going to miss a step, it's much more likely to be McElroy than McCoy. Also, McElroy is coming off a career performance, winning the MVP in the SEC championship game. McCoy is coming off a rather embarrassing night where the next #1 draft pick in the NFL threw him around like a rag doll. That set of intangibles favors Texas in our view.

Clearly, the intangibles are slanted towards Texas, but the nuts and bolts of the stat matchup favors Alabama.

If the Tide team that outclassed powerful Florida is still in fine form...they will be able to keep the Texas team that struggled vs. Nebraska and Oklahoma in check. Texas just won't be able to score much against a great defense playing at its peak.

If Alabama loses a step...they may find themselves five steps behind very quickly. Texas has underdog and Heisman motivation, and is playing at a site that's become storied in recent Longhorn lore. With a veteran quarterback taking one last shot at history.

It's going to be one of those storylines. WHICH ONE?!

When championships are on the line, YOU NEED WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!

Call 1-800-323-4453 right now to get our MAJOR RELEASE in tonight's BCS National Championship showdown. You can also purchase it here at the website with your credit card. Be sure to ask about our NFL PLAYOFF package as well. Sign up for that, and you'll get tonight's Alabama-Texas game at no additional charge. Be sure to ask about basketball too. We've got a huge weekend coming up in the baskets, starting off with TV games tonight, plus Boston-Atlanta and Cleveland-Denver Friday Night in the NBA.

You're going to watch Alabama-Texas tonight on ABC. WATCH AND WIN WITH JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

We promised to post bowl summaries for all the postseason action. Let's wrap up today's report with a brief look at last night's GMAC Bowl.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN 44, TROY 41 (in overtime)
Total Yardage: Central Michigan 550, Troy 572
Rushing Yardage: Central Michigan 155, Troy 168
Passing Stats: Central Michigan 33-56-1-395, Troy 32-57-0-404
Turnovers: Central Michigan 1, Troy 1
Halftime Score: Central Michigan 9, Troy 10
Vegas Line: Central Michigan by 2.5, total of 63
Comments: Turned out to be a wild game after a quiet first half. Very reminiscent of Bowling Green/Idaho in the final stages. Thanks to overtime the final score almost matched that one too. It's just not high quality football at this level, particularly on defense. The Mid American gets on the board with a win, but they didn't impress at all this year in the postseason. The Sun Belt established itself as an improving mid-major, though probably still the worst of the board conferences.

Time is running out. Don't you dare make a move in tonight's BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME until you hear what JIM HURLEY has to say! 1-800-323-4453. CALL NOW!

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22
Aug

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