NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- No team this season put on as complete a performance against a high-caliber opponent as Alabama did in its 32-13 SEC Championship win over Florida. But you would never know it listening to
"We did all right in that game, but we could have done better," said the Crimson Tide's star receiver. "A lot of people said we played a perfect game, but I don't think so."
Many have wondered since that Dec. 5 game whether the Tide put
C'mon. This is the national championship game.
Alabama's players follow the beat of their single-minded head coach,
It's doubtful Alabama will replicate its 490-yard SEC title game performance against Texas' thus-far impregnable defense, but the Tide won't need to. They were the most complete team in the country this season, and Thursday night's game will serve as one final reminder.
Here are five reasons Alabama will beat Texas:
"It's a lot more than 80," he said.
The Tide will come after 'Horns quarterback
"They have every blitz in the book, anything you want to draw up, they probably have," said McCoy. "If the offensive line can win up front, if we can protect and have time to go through our second and third progressions, we feel like we have a great opportunity to win." Unfortunately, the Longhorns have yet to demonstrate that ability.
But Texas doesn't normally face physical cornerbacks the caliber of Alabama's
"These are some of the best receivers we're going to face all year," said the All-America Arenas. "To get your hands on them and affect their routes is going to be crucial."
Oklahoma was especially effective in that department, with star corner
Obviously, the running game -- led by Heisman winner
But as he showed in the Tide's season-ending wins over Auburn and Florida, quarterback
"When you have that run-pass balance, you can almost dictate what's going to happen. You're messing with the defense's mind," said tight end
There's only one problem: Alabama doesn't turn it over. Saban's teams are often characterized by their discipline, and that's held true again this season, as Alabama is tied with Cincinnati for the fewest turnovers in the country (10). If anything, expect Alabama to hold on to the ball longer (it ranks fifth nationally in average time of possession 33:31) than Texas' typically pass-happy Big 12 foes.
But from the time AD
"A lot of people have come up to me said, 'I can't remember an Alabama season that's been more special,'" said McElroy. "It goes without saying, everyone would like to end the drought and win a national championship. Obviously, the writing's on the wall, it's just whether or not we can finish it."
Both offenses will struggle early. But while Alabama's relentless pressure will make it difficult for McCoy to find his rhythm (outside of an inevitable handful of big plays), the Tide should eventually be able to wear down Texas's defense with continual pounding from Ingram and Richardson. McElroy will make the throws to pull away in the fourth quarter.