Attention! Some nut here thinks Texas will beat Alabama

It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong. Heck, it’d be the third time in three days. (Picked Georgia Tech to win Tuesday in both basketball and football.) But here goes:

I like the Longhorns tonight.

It’s nothing against the SEC. I’ve covered the conference for 30 years and I know full well it’s the best there is. But over those 30 years I’ve learned a little something else, and it’s this: Pay particular attention to an excellent team that’s being given no shot at winning.

Four years ago an undefeated Texas went to California to play for the BCS title and was dismissed out of hand. Because Southern Cal was shooting for a third consecutive national championship. Because the Trojans had not one but two Heisman holders on their roster. Because SC was regarded by us media types as the greatest team ever and therefore invincible.

But it’s a funny thing: Not many teams truly are invincible. Against the wrong opponent on the wrong day, anybody can be unhorsed. And the Trojans played like crazy, at least on offense, that night in Pasadena — I was there, and I well recall Reggie Bush flipping into the end zone and Dwayne Jarrett making like Mr. Fantastic to stretch the ball over the goal line for what seemed the clinching touchdown — and still got beat. Because Vince Young had the greatest single performance I’ve ever seen. Because Texas simply would not go away.

Alabama is a splendid team. Indeed, it’s trying to do something conference brethren Florida and LSU, each of which has won two BCS titles this millennium, couldn’t manage, and that’s finish unbeaten. (Auburn went through the SEC undefeated in 2004 but didn’t get to play for the BCS crown.) And I do believe the raging consensus about the SEC — that its best players tend to be faster than the best players from other leagues — is in fact a fact. But I’d argue that the Big 12 is the league that comes closest to approximating the SEC, and I would never discount an unbeaten Big 12 champ.

Having been around a while, I know how it works: We media types tend to work off the last thing we’ve seen. And on Dec. 5 we saw Alabama trample Florida while Texas nearly pulled a Les Miles and lost to Nebraska. And the Longhorns had a rough ride in College Station on Thanksgiving night against a Texas A&M team that Georgia just crushed without benefit of a defensive coordinator.

That said, no team wins every game by 50 points. At last check, Alabama needed a blocked field goal to survive Tennessee, which would finish 7-6, and the day after Texas struggled to subdue the Aggies the Tide had to rally to beat Auburn. But my point isn’t to derogate Alabama, which is a tough and talented and superbly coached; it’s to suggest those same descriptions apply to its just-as-undefeated opponent.

And we have to be careful when we try to graft one year onto the next. Different seasons bring differing dynamics. Just because Southern Cal had beaten the Big 12 champ (Oklahoma, which was undone when the nicely named Mark Bradley fumbled a punt he shouldn’t have touched) by 36 points  in January 2005  didn’t mean the next Big 12 champ would succumb so readily. Just because the SEC has won the past three BCS titles doesn’t mean Alabama is a lock tonight.

Back to 2006: I asked Mack Brown at his day-before media briefing how it felt to have a team that good and be afforded so little chance. (Pretty darn good, he said.) And big-time coaches love these kinds of games. It isn’t often a program like Texas ever gets to be an decided underdog — the spread is only four points, but do you know many folks who are picking against the Tide? — and I’d especially be wary of an underdog that has the better quarterback.

Being my silly self, I picked Texas over Southern Cal back then. (No, it didn’t look good when the Trojans led by 12 points with four minutes left. But it worked out in the end.) Maybe I’m just trying to repeat my one moment of prognosticating perspicacity, but I like the same school to do the same thing in the same stadium.

849 comments Add your comment

haywood...

January 7th, 2010
12:57 pm

cattle dawg

January 7th, 2010
12:57 pm

FLA DAWG

January 7th, 2010
12:58 pm

Mark,

Your point is well made. I was in The Tide Camp until I saw them play UT. Tenn came to play ball that day and it was one damn close game. And we both know that Texas is a much better team than UT.

I think Texas could win this one.

BulldawgGirl

January 7th, 2010
12:58 pm

First? Be jealous.

Bamboozled

January 7th, 2010
12:59 pm

cattle dawg

January 7th, 2010
12:59 pm

Gratefuldawghead

January 7th, 2010
1:00 pm

Good article but I am still taking Bama.

haywood...

January 7th, 2010
1:00 pm

and by the way…

1st!

cattle dawg

January 7th, 2010
1:00 pm

Dang computer froze up. Mark never should a grown man call himself silly. Leave that to us bloggers.

BulldawgGirl

January 7th, 2010
1:01 pm

Damn. I knew the fact that it took forever to load was a bad sign…

haywood...

January 7th, 2010
1:04 pm

lest we forget the 2 touchdown underdog ohio st
against miami for the nat’l championship?

mark, you may have a point .

Edward

January 7th, 2010
1:08 pm

I don’t know. I see your point, but I think Alabama will stuff the Texas ground attack. Texas will then have to rely on Colt (good one to rely on) and I don’t think he’s been hit in the mouth the way he’s going to be tonight. In other words, I think Alabama will make Texas one dimensional and by the second quarter, Colt will have happy feet as he looks to run from Mount Cody.

DawginLex

January 7th, 2010
1:10 pm

I agree with you Mark. The General and I both had Texas/florida from day one with Texas winning.

I ain’t changing now. Guess that’s why I’ve been married for as long as I have.

AndyC

January 7th, 2010
1:13 pm

I think you are going to be wrong again Mark. But I give you credit for taking the less popular point of view.

TD

January 7th, 2010
1:14 pm

Bama all day, yes texas is very likely to win but. then again its the SEC. And Colt McCoy is no Vince Young. Bama wins by 7.

Marky Mark Bradley

January 7th, 2010
1:14 pm

I understand why Alabama is favored so heavily by the media, but at the same time I agree with everything you stated here, especially the quarterback part. I honestly don’t care who wins, but selfishly I want the game to be decided in the last :30, just for some excitement.

BMDPD

January 7th, 2010
1:17 pm

GeoffDawg

January 7th, 2010
1:19 pm

I think I got the word “derogate” when I played Balderdash over Christmas.

Re: The Game – Bama wins by 7 to 10 in a hard fought, competitive contest. Their running game will allow them to separate from Texas in the late third quarter. Just my hunch.

Ted Striker

January 7th, 2010
1:22 pm

haywood...

January 7th, 2010
1:22 pm

i’m gone for 2 weeks then, BAM, i hit first!

waiting for props…

haywood...

January 7th, 2010
1:23 pm

will there be any LIVE CHAT during the game?

Gen Neyland

January 7th, 2010
1:24 pm

DawginLex : Mack and Watson Brown are from my hometown in Tennessee. My claim to fame with those two was tossing some pitch and catch with them back in those youthful days just down the road from Rocky Top. Yeah, we three amigos (U,me,MB) had Texas and Florida in The Game. I thought Texas could handle Florida but I’m not getting the same feeling with Alabama. I think Texas’ defense will surprise people that feel they can’t hang with Alabama, but I also think Alabama’s defense will play stout with McCoy/Shipley. In this game, my lower heart goes with my original pick (to thine on self be true) but my upper heart is tilting SEC. Ahhh, just give us a dam good game…

Mark Bradley

January 7th, 2010
1:29 pm

Hey. Can I ask you folks if the blogs seem slower than usual today?

Edward

January 7th, 2010
1:34 pm

Yup … the blog appears to be using a walker today

GeoffDawg

January 7th, 2010
1:34 pm

Yep, check those ajc servers Mark. Maybe the snow’s freezing them up.

willie martinez

January 7th, 2010
1:36 pm

Mark, i was going to ask if you had a dial up connection its so slow.

Dawgrulz

January 7th, 2010
1:37 pm

Yeah, Mark the blog was slow and I thought it was my computer.

You make a good point. I have picked Texas in a Bowl Pool and am the only one to pick UT. I can’t shake the feeling that Texas has had a month to hear how good Alabama is. The Florida-Ohio State game a few years ago is the perfect example of the last team told they had no chance to win surprising people. I do think Alabama wins but a lot of people will be surprised at how good Texas plays.

GeoffDawg

January 7th, 2010
1:37 pm

This blog just got lapped by Slo-Mo Rodriguez.

A Rod

January 7th, 2010
1:38 pm

I got a gut feeling texas will win also. Bama gave everything they got against FL and I dont think they got anything left.

Beau vighn

January 7th, 2010
1:38 pm

I’ll take Texas for 200 Alex…..Longhorns will gameplan to stop Ingram and put it on the Tide QB…He cannot win this game for them. Colt McCoy can win it for Texas

Blindog

January 7th, 2010
1:41 pm

I’ve lost all respect for you ,Mark,SEC ALL THE WAY BABY!!!!!!!!!

Bob Horner had a sweet compact swing

January 7th, 2010
1:46 pm

I think the X factor is Nick Saban……RTR…Bama wins a close one as Saban out coaches Brown….

rod

January 7th, 2010
1:47 pm

It’s getting old like you Mr. Bradley. You’re more like a fine wine, though.

GeoffDawg

January 7th, 2010
1:48 pm

A Rod – Bama’s had a month to recover from the SEC title game. I don’t think a lack of gas in their tank is going to affect them. Texas barely squeaked by Nebraska too so they’d be just as likely to be burned out.

rod

January 7th, 2010
1:49 pm

Arenas will have an MVP night and ‘Bama wins by an FG

Realist

January 7th, 2010
1:50 pm

Now, now. Everyone has the right to their own opinion, even though it they do not agree with ours. But anyone who actually believes Texas is going to beat Alabama, are the same people who thought Tech would beat Iowa.

Reggie Ball

January 7th, 2010
1:52 pm

Yo Mark, you gots a dictionary? I cant understand many of dem words in yo article.

Hillbilly Deluxe

January 7th, 2010
1:53 pm

Maybe I’m just trying to repeat my one moment of prognosticating perspicacity, but I like the same school to do the same thing in the same stadium.

I’m not exactly sure what perspicacity means but Alabama isn’t USC. ;-) It’s hard to catch lightning in a prognosticating bottle twice.

Yes, the blog is extremely contrary today. I’m having to load and reload.

Otto

January 7th, 2010
1:54 pm

Mark, you can’t wait for March Madness can you?

Jasper Sanks

January 7th, 2010
1:55 pm

Yo Reggie, come on over to my crib. I gots one you can use.

Sam Robards, Dawg Fan

January 7th, 2010
1:56 pm

You’re not the only one, Mark. I think Texas wins, too. 30-23. Colt McCoy is the real deal.

And no, I didn’t think Tech would beat Iowa. Iowa’s defense is tough, and Tech’s is about as tough as wet toilet paper.

I'll take the points, too!

January 7th, 2010
1:56 pm

Roll Tide Roll…around the bowl and down the hole!

Hook ‘em, Horns!

The Law Dawg

January 7th, 2010
1:57 pm

Both of these teams have looked vulnerable at times this season. They have both needed some luck. The key here is to determine how these teams have been playing as of late. Texas barely made it into the Finals with a slight win over a marginal Nebraska team. While Alabama dominated a high powered SEC power in Florida in their last game. Hopefully we will have a good game tonight though.

Reggie Ball

January 7th, 2010
1:57 pm

Otay Jaspur, ill be over dere in a second or to.

Paul's Johnson

January 7th, 2010
1:57 pm

If this match up had a parallel in the business world, it would be something like Microsoft vs Wal-mart. The point being that Tejas does not quite fit the bill of the overwhelming underdog so many in the media have portrayed. They’re a fine club. I don’t see why Baja Oklahoma can’t give the Tide more than they can handle.

GT Brill

January 7th, 2010
1:58 pm

My mom’s family is from Texas, great grandad ran a saloon in Austin, but I have Bama friends here in Atlanta that I care about…so, just hoping for a great game and let the best team win.

Bob Horner had a sweet compact swing

January 7th, 2010
1:59 pm

I’ll take the points, too! …that was hilarious…haven’t heard that one…

Da Coach

January 7th, 2010
2:01 pm

Anybody notice that teams like Iowa; Boise State, and TCU (among others) are never ranked in the top recruiting classes? As if anybody really knows what 17-year old kid in Florida is better than a counterparet in Texas or Ohio; just as we’ll never know if those teams can play with Alabama or Texas until a playoff system is implemented! .

Dawgmess

January 7th, 2010
2:01 pm

Slow blogs? I wrote something Monday and ain’t seen it yet!

rod

January 7th, 2010
2:01 pm

Arenas will have an MVP night and Bama wins by a FG