Alabama (13-0) vs. Texas (13-0)
Jan. 7, 8 p.m., (ABC)
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.