I've spent pretty much my entire day massaging statistics to make myself feel better about the championship game (sorry, boss). Unfortunately, what I came up with ain't pretty. This is my first attempt at one of these types of comparisons, so bear with me. For what it's worth:
Offense vs. Opponents' Defense
- Against the best scoring defense the teams faced, Bama scored 32 points (UF #1) and UT scored 13 points (NU #3). (Rank: Bama #2, UT #7) Verdict: Alabama. More points versus a better defense.
- Against the best rushing defense the teams faced, Bama rushed for 251 yards and 3 touchdowns (UF #14), and UT rushed for 67 yards and 3 touchdowns (UCF #4). (UT #1, Bama #2) Verdict: I’m calling this one a draw. First, our “best opponent” was ranked #4, versus their “best opponent” at #14. Second, although they rushed for more yardage, we had the same number of scores. Third, we don’t even pretend to care about running the ball.
- Against the best passing defense they faced, Bama passed for 239 yards, 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions (UF #3), and UT passed for 127 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception (OU #22). (Bama #7, UT #23) Verdict: Alabama. Nearly twice the yardage and no interceptions versus a much better defense.
- Against the best total defense they faced, Bama put up 490 yards and 32 points (UF #4), and UT put up 269 yards and 16 points (OU #7). (Bama #2, UT #3) Verdict: Alabama. Again, nearly twice the yardage and twice the points versus a better unit.
Defense vs. Opponents' Offense
- Against the best scoring offense the teams faced, Bama gave up 7 points (Arkansas #8), and UT gave up 24 points (TT #9). (UT #3, Bama #26) Verdict: Alabama. They gave up less than one-third the points we did, versus a better (albeit barely) unit.
- Against the best rushing offense the teams faced, Bama gave up 88 yards and no touchdowns (UF #9), and UT gave up 134 yards and 1 touchdown (OSU #24). (Bama #12, UT #55) Verdict: Alabama. Gave up fewer yards and no scores versus a better unit.
- Against the best passing offense they faced, Bama allowed 191 yards, 1 touchdown and came down with 1 interception (Arkansas #10), and UT gave up 420 yards, 3 touchdowns, and came away with 1 interception (TT #2). (UT #14, Bama #84) Verdict: Alabama. Gave up less than half the yards and 2 fewer scores, although their opponent at #10 wasn’t quite up to par with our #2.
- Against the best total offense they faced, Bama gave up 335 yards and 13 points (UF #12), and UT gave up 532 yards and 39 points (TAMU #5). (UT #20, Bama #35) Verdict: Alabama. They did a better job, giving up fewer yards and one-third as many points in their biggest game of the year, although, again, their opponent at #12 wasn’t up to snuff with ours at #5.
Head-to-Head Comparisons to Make You Feel Better
- UT scores more points (40.7 vs. 31.7) against nearly the same caliber defensive competition (Bama 54 vs. UT 59).
- UT makes more first downs (315 vs. 272).
- While Alabama averages over 5 yards per carry rushing, they do so against rushing defenses ranked #71. UT averages over 4 yards per carry against defenses ranked #47.
- UT has more rushing touchdowns (28 vs. 27).
- UT has more interceptions made (24 vs. 20).
- UT has more punt returns (4 vs. 1) and kickoff returns (3 vs. 0) for touchdowns.
- UT has caused more fumbles (24 vs. 16) and recovered more fumbles (11 vs. 6).
- UT has a higher 3rd-down conversion rate (46% vs. 41%).
- UT has a higher red-zone success rate (93% vs. 85%).
- UT has a higher FG success rate (88% vs. 85%).
- UT has more tackles for loss (107 vs. 88).
- UT has more sacks (37 vs. 30).
- While Alabama has a better turnover margin (+16 vs. +12), UT has a better turnover margin versus ranked teams (+4 vs. +1).
- Ten of UT’s thirteen opponents had a higher-rated offense than ten of Alabama’s opponents.
- Six of UT’s thirteen opponents had a higher-rated defense than six of Alabama’s thirteen opponents.
All of that having been said, it is important to note that everything shown above is objective; it's a cold-hearted, robotic look at both teams' past performance. But, much like the stock market, past performance is not necessarily an indicator of future performance. As has been noted elsewhere, Alabama basically spent the last 365 days preparing to play Florida, and they went into the Georgia Dome and rolled. They played a nearly perfect game.
The Longhorns, on the other hand, have spent the last 365 days preparing to play in Pasadena. They haven't really played a "complete" game all season, and in fact have appeared to coast through pretty much all of their games, OU, TAMU, and NU included.
Alabama has nowhere to go but down. The 'Horns, hopefully, can still take a big step up and put together their first (and only) complete game of the season, giving us one dominant performance in the only game that really matters to any of us at this point.
So, subjectively, I have faith that Mack will pull it all together and trot a better product out onto the Rose Bowl turf (which, incidentally, we own) to square off with Alabama (who, incidentally, we also own). Cody ain't Suh; McElroy ain't Jerrod. I believe that if Alabama comes onto the field in Pasadena expecting to see the same Texas team they've seen for the last two weeks, they are going to be quite shocked at the whirling ball of butcher knives they run into.