Running the football won't be easy for Texas or Alabama when they face each other next month in the BCS Championship Game. The matchup was made official on Sunday night as the BCS bowls were announced. Alabama finished No. 1 in the final regular-season BCS standings with Texas No. 2.
Those teams are ranked ahead of everyone else against the run, too. The Longhorns have the top rushing defense in the country, holding opponents to 62.15 yards per game on the ground. Alabama is No. 2, with teams managing just 77.92 yards per game. Both teams held their conference championship game opponents to less than 100 yards rushing in the wins.
So the team that can run the ball -- something Alabama did for 251 yards against Florida on Saturday -- could have a big edge.
For Texas, that means learning from Saturday night's offensive struggles against Nebraska. The Blackshirts held Texas to 202 yards of total offense, including 18 on the ground. Quarterback Colt McCoy was pressured all night and was sacked nine times.
"I think it got our offensive team's attention," Texas coach Mack Brown said in a conference call with reporters Sunday night.
The good news: Texas can use that experience as preparation for the national championship game.
Brown has great respect for the Alabama defense. He said he was able to watch the first quarter of the SEC title game and saw immediately how disciplined and well-positioned the Tide defenders were in running their schemes.
"I said, 'Those guys are prepared,'" said Brown, who acknowledged that Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp learned a lot from Nick Saban when he worked with him at LSU. "They do as good a job as anyone in the country on defense."
But as Brown will point out: So do the Longhorns. Texas held Nebraska to 106 total yards on Saturday and was at its best on third down. The Huskers went 2-for-16 on third downs and had just five first downs the entire game.
"Texas is a great team," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "We're excited as a university and a team to have the opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl and play a quality opponent with tremendous tradition."
Other regional teams in non-BCS bowl games (all times Central):