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Breaking down the BCS National Championship

BCS National Championship Game
Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010
At the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

No. 1 Alabama (13-0) vs. No. 2 Texas (13-0)

Alabama by the numbers
Points scored: 31.69 per game (25th nationally)
Points allowed: 11 per game (2nd nationally)
Total offense: 413.77 yards per game (32nd nationally)
Rushing yards: 215.85 per game (12th nationally)
Passing yards: 197.92 per game (83rd nationally)
Total defense: 241.69 yards per game (2nd nationally)
Rushing yards allowed: 77.92 per game (2nd nationally)
Passing yards allowed: 163.77 per game (8th nationally)

Texas by the numbers
Points scored: 40.69 per game (3rd nationally)
Points allowed: 15.15 per game (8th nationally)
Total offense: 432.38 yards per game (16th nationally)
Rushing yards: 152.69 yards per game (55th nationally)
Passing yards: 279.69 yards per game (18th nationally)
Total defense: 251.08 yards per game (3rd nationally)
Rushing yards allowed: 62.15 yards per game (1st nationally)
Passing yards allowed: 188.92 yards per game (25th nationally)

Leaders

Alabama
Passing: Greg McElroy, 192 comp., 314 att., 2,450 yards, 61.1 comp. pct., 17 TDs, 4 INTs
Rushing: Mark Ingram, 249 carries, 1,542 yards, 6.2 avg. 15 TDs
Receiving: Julio Jones, 42 catches, 573 yards, 13.6 avg., 4 TDs
Tackles: Rolando McClain, 101
Interceptions: Mark Barron, 7
Sacks: Marcell Dareus, 6.5

Texas
Passing: Colt McCoy, 330 comp., 468 att., 3,512 yards, 70.5 comp. pct., 27 TDs, 12 INTs
Rushing: Tre' Newton, 102 carries, 513 yards, 5.0 avg., 6 TDs
Receiving: Jordan Shipley, 106 catches, 1,363 yards, 12.9 avg., 11 TDs
Tackles: Roddrick Muckelroy, 96
Interceptions: Earl Thomas, 8
Sacks: Sam Acho, 9

Key matchups

Mark Ingram vs. the Texas defensive front: Texas can't allow Ingram, the Heisman Trophy winner, to take over the game. Ingram has spent the season wearing down defenses and winning games in the fourth quarter.
Colt McCoy vs. the Alabama defensive line: Alabama's defensive line has the ability to wreak havoc just like Nebraska did in the Big 12 championship. Texas had trouble stopping Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh and will have similar problems with Alabama's Terrence Cody. McCoy is going to need to get rid of the ball quickly, take off and run for yards when needed, and avoid turnovers (McCoy threw three interceptions against Nebraska).

When Texas has the ball: The Longhorns need to find a running attack. That means Newton, a freshman, is going to need to have success. Without a rushing attack, Alabama can focus on putting pressuring on McCoy. Remember, Nick Saban loves to blitz. McCoy, when given time, has a good group of receivers to throw to, with Shipley leading the way. McCoy will need to make smart decisions when throwing the ball. Alabama is tied for fifth in the country with 20 interceptions.
When Alabama has the ball: Texas will undoubtedly load up the box to try and stop Ingram. That will put pressure on McElroy, who had a three-game streak of no touchdown passes in the middle of the season, but rebounded to throw eight touchdowns over his last five games. If McElroy can get the passing game going with wide receiver Julio Jones and tight end Colin Peek, who has been a big factor in McElroy's strong play of late, that will loosen up the Texas defense and allow Alabama to run Ingram late.

Texas' X-factor: I'm looking for defense tackle Lamarr Houston to have an impact in this game. Houston has 20 tackles for loss and seven sacks this season. He could be effective against the run and putting pressure on McElroy.
Alabama's X-factor: Javier Arenas. Arenas is a dangerous returner and will be a key as the Crimson Tide tries to slow down Shipley. Arenas has over 1,000 combined yards in kick and punt returns. He also has three interceptions.

Prediction: Alabama 27, Texas 17. The game will be close throughout. But I still feel Ingram will have a huge impact in the fourth quarter. I can see Ingram leading Alabama on a memorable fourth-quarter drive to clinch the national championship.

New York Sports