About Alabama. For the third and final time, the regular season closes as my law exams heat up, inconveniently limiting my ability to contribute around these parts until the last test is taken. Fortunately, around here we've got a terrific team of writers keeping things moving steadily along, but this is also the time to make note of SBN's fantastic Alabama blog, Roll Bama Roll. To highlight just one among many outstanding bits of content, check out Kleph's "Alabama vs Texas All-Time" series, which has thus far chronicled the two teams' 1902 and 1915 match ups. Check in at RBR, and represent our school (and this blog) well. Act like you've been here before, so to speak.
(More) About Alabama. Exams will keep me from doing anything with it for a while, but I'm downloading the SEC Championship Game as we speak, so hang tight for some substantive analysis on what Nick Saban did to smack around the Gators. Vegas oddsmakers said that, prior to last weekend, Texas would have opened a slight favorite over Alabama, but their resounding win over Florida, coupled with Texas' miserable showing in Dallas, resulted in the Bama (-3.5) opening line, which bettors have already pushed up to 5 points. My last impression of Bama was from their narrow win over Auburn, so I'm eager to look closely at their SECCG beatdown.
Time to move on. As far as I'm concerned, it's time to move on from the sideshows. In terms of Nebraska: we nearly blew it, but the correct call was made on the game clock, the kick was good, and we won, fair and square. Elsewhere, Cincinnati, Boise State and TCU have every right to carp about the system, and Texas fans can certainly empathize: after all, last year we were the ones who got the short end of the system's stick.
That's all been established and re-established satisfactorily. This year Texas and Alabama are the two teams that benefit from the two-team system, and beyond the fact that more than two teams deserve a shot, there's nothing left to say. And we have nothing to apologize for.
Searching for silver linings. Considering just how close Mack Brown and Greg Davis came to the most unforgivable loss in program history, it's hard to find too many silver linings from the offensive performance in Dallas beyond the goals achieved by the end result. But I'll try, taking us back to the morning of November 2, 2008, hours after the devastating loss in Lubbock. From the Post-Game React:
We can and will go over in more detail some of the mistakes, but I take this bullet point to note that Texas beat Oklahoma because it approached the game with a "F-ck you--no one thinks we can beat these guys" approach. After jumping on Missouri, we last week saw the coaches slide a bit towards "Protect" mode. Tonight, the first half approach was a too-conservative one that left the Longhorns scrambling to catch up.
[...] Texas was a disaster on offense in the first half. And it wasn't until they showed some diversity in the second half that things got rolling again. Fozzy and Malcolm, nearly heroes. Alas, a day late, a dollar short. So if our coaches can be forgiven for having the "Dance with the ones who brung ya" mindset to start this game, the key to achieving the Big Goals heading forward involves an evolution above and beyond the delicate Pony Show which finally met its match.
There are two takeaways here, one bad, one good. On the negative side, the coaching staff almost hung themselves by falling into the now all-too familiar passive offensive approach. They clearly haven't learned that lesson, and it has proven -- time and again, amidst so many strengths -- to be Mack Brown's defining weakness.
But... on the potentially positive side, Greg Davis's shining moments inevitably come on the heels of disaster. The coaching staff just had their pants scared off, and if there's one time when the offense seems to come out firing, it's after disaster and/or when there's an apparent urgent need to buck tendencies and be aggressive. It's hard to imagine that the approach in Pasadena will be merely to hope that what didn't work against Nebraska will work against Alabama.
Not unrelated to that, Texas is going to have to endure an entire month of talk about how fortunate they are to be in the game, how unproven they are against good teams, how lackluster their performance was against top defenses, and how badly Alabama is going to blow them out.
Let's be frank about it: We may regret that we can't be at our best except after we've struggled, but if that's the way it is, then down-and-considered-out is where we want to be.