So there you have it. It’s been 32 days since Alabama and Texas were selected to play in the national championship game. Those days have been filled with bookoos of prognostication and predictions.
Three minutes had not gone by in tonight’s game before it was all for naught. Colt McCoy, the Texas quarterback, better known as the Longhorns’ Only Hope, left the game with an apparent shoulder injury and has not returned.
Garrett Gilbert is McCoy’s backup, and he took over on the first drive, leading Texas to a field goal.
Too bad Nick Saban can not see into the future. The usually conservative coach called a fake punt on fourth down with 18 yards to go from his own 20-yard line. The pass was intercepted by Blake Gideon at the 37.
It was a ironic redemption play for Gideon, who dropped an easy interception last year against Texas Tech, ultimately costing Texas an undefeated season and spot in last year’s national championship game.
After the Hunter Lawrence field goal, Alabama muffed a pooch kick and the Longhorns recovered. That was perfect for Gilbert, who was limited to mostly handoffs on the drive. Texas added another field goal after failing to convert a first down.
Alabama responded with a drive down to the Texas 3-yard line as the quarter came to an end. They seem poised to score a touchdown and take a 7-6 lead.
The Crimson Tide’s offense struggled prior to this most recent drive. Greg McElroy was sacked three times in nine plays and was clearly rattled in the pocket. If he settles down, and the Tide commit to running the ball down Texas’ throats, it’s highly unlikely the Longhorns’ offense can keep up if McCoy does not return.
Texas needs big plays from its defense and special teams to have a chance. Turnovers and field position become the biggest factors, bar none.