The stage is officially set:
Alabama, Texas to play for national title

By Tommy Deas and Adam Jones - Tuscaloosa News
December 07, 2009


  Marcell Dareus
Marcell Dareus (57) puts pressure on Florida quarterback Tim Tebow (15) in the third in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome on Dec 5, 2009.
TUSCALOOSA -- It’s official: The University of Alabama will play for the program’s 13th national title against the Texas Longhorns on Jan. 7, 2010, at the BCS Championship Game at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Stadium.

“We think the Tournament of Roses is the granddaddy of them all ... and we’re excited as a university and as a team to have the opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl,” said Alabama head coach Nick Saban in a media conference call Sunday night. “We feel this is a tremendous honor.”

Alabama, 13-0, beat defending national champion Florida 32-13 on Saturday in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game in Atlanta to earn its berth. The Longhorns, also undefeated at 13-0, pulled out a last-second 13-12 victory over Nebraska in the Big 12 title game on Saturday night to advance.

“We are honored to play such a great team like the University of Alabama and their coach in coach Nick Saban, who I have tremendous respect for. Those guys have done such a great job,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown, who won a national championship with the Longhorns in the Rose Bowl in 2005.

The game will be televised on ABC, with the pregame program starting at 7 p.m. Central time.

The Crimson Tide finished No. 1 in the Bowl Championship Series ratings released Sunday, the final ratings before the title game. Texas was No. 2.

“We know Texas is a great program and a great team, but, you know, great moments are created by great opportunities, and this is a great opportunity for any team,” Saban said Sunday on the BCS selection show on Fox. “I’m really pleased and happy and proud of our team to have this opportunity.”

While Texas wasn’t impressive in beating Nebraska, the Longhorns finished comfortably ahead of No. 3 Cincinnati in the BCS ratings, which are calculated by a formula that combines polls and computer rankings.

Said Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, a Heisman Trophy candidate and college football’s all-time winningest quarterback with a 45-7 record as a starter, “Give all the credit to our team. We found a way to win. Our defense played great. Offensively we weren’t clicking as well as we wanted to be all night, but that’s a tribute to our team to find a way to win.

“I’m so thankful that we have one more shot, and that’s to play Alabama in the national championship.”

The national title game will pit two of college football’s most storied programs against each other for the crystal national title trophy. Alabama claims 12 national championships and the Longhorns claim four, although Texas has actually been recognized as national titlist nine times by one or more sources.

Texas is college football’s No. 2 all-time program in victories with 845 wins. Alabama passed Penn State this season to move up to No. 6 in all-time wins with 812.

“There’s so much tradition and there’s so much passion,” Saban said when asked about Alabama’s history. “There’s great expectations for what people would like to accomplish, and what has been accomplished in the past is probably as unique as any college program in the country, so it’s been a tremendous self-gratification for everybody in the organization. ...

“We’re extremely proud of the program that we have and what the program has been able to accomplish in the three years that we’ve been there.”

Saban also reflected on Alabama’s one-sided win over the Gators, who entered the game with the nation’s longest winning streak.

“It was a great win,” Saban said. “We were very proud of the way our team played. I think our team played with a lot of character in the game, competed extremely well — I’ve never been prouder of a team in terms of everybody sort of just playing great. “It was a wonderful, wonderful win. I was so happy.”

Saban said the UA coaching staff was unable to narrow down candidates for weekly player-of-the-game honors. “We tried to come up with a player of the game today in terms of watching the offensive film, we had to give it to the entire team,” Saban said. “Our offensive line did a fantastic job, all three runners did a great job and I think Greg (McElroy) would be the first one to tell you his great success in the game was created by his teammates, his receivers and all the people around him. It was a great offensive effort to be able to move the ball as well as we did against a very fine Florida defense.”

Saban praised Texas’ offense and defense. Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp was Saban’s defensive coordinator at LSU when the Tigers won the 2003 national title game. “I think Texas will probably have as good a offensive players as anybody we’ve faced all year and I know they’ve got a great defense, No. 1 defense,” Saban said. “Will Muschamp does a great job, Mack (Brown, head coach) does a great job with the overall program. This is going to be a challenging game for us.”

Alabama has never beaten Texas, going 0-7-1 against the Longhorns. The two last met in the 1981 Cotton Bowl, a Longhorn victory. However, Alabama does have a good record in the Rose Bowl. UA is 4-2-1 in the Rose Bowl, which includes a regular season loss to UCLA in 2000. The last time the Crimson Tide played a post-season game in the Rose Bowl was 1946, a victory over Southern California.

Texas is playing in the Rose Bowl for the third time in the past six years, winning games there in 2005 and 2006.



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