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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

BCS: Fate dictates Texas will win, but the facts favor Alabama

Signs and portents make the Longhorns the feel-good favorite at the Rose Bowl on Thursday. Or not. Take off that tinfoil hat with the horns, the mean and hungry Tide will carry the day.

January 07, 2010

Texas will win the national championship because, in La-La land, people like scripts that come full circle, having their fortunes told and Jupiter aligned with Mars.

There are too many coincidences to think it can go any other way -- at least that's what the palm reader said.

Four years ago, at the Rose Bowl, Texas defeated USC to win the national title.

Before trotting onto the field to lead Texas on the game-winning drive, quarterback Vince Young turned to a skinny redshirt freshman holding a clipboard and told him to pay attention because he was going to be in this position someday.

"Watch what I do," Young told Colt McCoy.

And then Young went out and won the game.

Having paid close attention, McCoy has led Texas back to the national title game at the Rose Bowl.

"I tried to soak that all in," McCoy said this week.

One thing McCoy learned: "Your team has to trust you. The team has to want the ball in your hands."

Young was 30-2 as Texas' quarterback; McCoy is 45-7, 13-0 this season.

"What both of them have done is given us a spark," Texas Coach Mack Brown said. "They've given us the 'it' factor."

Another parallel: Young was inspired after losing the Heisman Trophy to USC running back Reggie Bush and got the chance to make his case against Bush's team in the title game.

This year, McCoy lost the Heisman Trophy to Alabama running back Mark Ingram and will get the chance to make his case against Ingram's team in the title game.

Texas will beat Alabama tonight because its coach also has the "it" factor, as in: He gets it. Brown knows how to work the room and enjoy the festivities.

His eloquent answer to Wednesday's final news conference question -- "When you're not sleeping tonight, what will be racing through your mind?" -- was the before-game football equivalent to Rockne's halftime speech.

On the awesome responsibility of setting the right tone with his players in the pregame meeting, Brown said: "I'll have 122 sets of eyes looking at me."

On what it means to be one of two schools, out of 120, to be on this stage: "You're the best at what you do in the country and you've got 3 1/2 hours to prove it."

It was on this stage five years ago where the Longhorns came of new age as a program. Brown said Texas' victory over Michigan in the 2005 Rose Bowl game "validated that we were going to be around awhile."

::

Alabama (13-0) will win the national championship because it's the better team and anyone who thinks fate is involved probably believes in flying saucers and sorcery.

Football games aren't won with inspiring pregame speeches or because "wouldn't it be neat if Colt McCoy won four years after Vince Young?"

Football games are won when gigantic men and serious coaches implement meticulous plans.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban is king of "you've got to go through your checklist."

Saban doesn't care if you like him -- he may not fancy himself.

Disneyland to him is "clutter," and that goes for three of the seven dwarfs.

Saban's idea of fun would be putting barbed wire up around the practice field.

High-strung Urban Meyer very briefly resigned from Florida to take care of his health and spend more quality time at home.

Saban fits the mock headline once suggested for workaholic Tom Coughlin: "Coach quits family to spend more time with team."

What Saban has done successfully in Tuscaloosa is what he didn't do for the Miami Dolphins: make the NFL blueprint work.

Alabama is an NFL team without a salary cap. It was built from scratch, on a cinder block. The Tide rolls by running the ball and stopping the run. The Tide won three games this year without quarterback Greg McElroy throwing for a touchdown.

"You want to make things simple for the players," Saban said Wednesday.

Ask Alabama senior nose guard Terrence Cody what it's like to allow an opposing runner 100 yards and he couldn't tell you -- it hasn't happened in his two seasons.

Alabama isn't a Hollywood's "Lean on Me," it's "Lean on You."

You side with the Crimson Tide because it will erode Texas. It is the hungrier "organization," having not won a national title in 17 years.

Alabama is still fed up over last season, when it was No. 1 before closing with losses to Florida in the Southeastern Conference title game and Utah in the Sugar Bowl.

The Utah loss was a rude awakening.

"We looked at a Utah team, and we were like, 'it's Utah,' and we weren't really ready to play," All-America linebacker Rolando McClain conceded.

Alabama vowed it would never happen again.

::

Texas or Alabama, so which is it going to be?

The odds favor Alabama and a kicker being named MVP. The big fear is the two offenses won't combine for 100 . . . yards.

What's it going to sound like when Alabama's Heisman winner, Mark Ingram, hits a Texas chain saw defense that allows a nation-low 62 rushing yards per game?

When you crunch all the jersey numbers, what gives?

Texas has some nerve taking that shaky running game against an Alabama defense that tolerates 11 points a game. Moving Alabama's defensive front is as tough as air-lifting an elephant.

Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh, by himself, blew up Texas' offensive game plan in the Big 12 title game -- and Alabama's defense is probably better.

So what are we looking at here . . . 3-0?

Probably not, because crazy things can happen -- interceptions, fumbles, kick returns, safeties.

OK, let's make it 16-15, or 18-17 or 21-19. Let's say Texas wins but not believe it.

Maybe fate can carry the night for Texas. Or maybe it will be Alabama, as a matter of facts.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

twitter.com/DufresneLATimes

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