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Jumbo Package: Texas has the better QB?

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Middle Tennessee at Alabama Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. Texas and Alabama each ate a tasty cupcake last week in preparation for the real start of the season for both sides, in Tuscaloosa tomorrow night. Needless to say, all of the national and local writers have weighed in on this one. Some of the previews:

Oh sure, the Texas offense is fantastic, and oh sure, last year’s game should’ve been a Tide loss, and oh sure, it’s Georgia’s world and everyone else is just living it.

You ready for an attitude? Watch out for what this Alabama D is about to bring.

Alabama was brutally efficient and sharp in the opener, and it’ll keep that all going with a whale of a game by both lines. Everyone thinks the Longhorns are going to fire at will on this defense.

Bad things happen when Nick Saban’s program feels unappreciated.

Alabama 38, Texas 16

Crawford (Texas +7) — I picked FSU to beat LSU this offseason, then went against my gut in Week 1 and took the Tigers. I’m not doing that again. The Longhorns have been waiting for an opportunity against the Crimson Tide since last season’s loss in Austin and will be able to match Alabama athletically across the board. Will Jalen Milroe prove doubters wrong against an elite opponent after a five-touchdown opener or will Quinn Ewers pick up where he left off during last season’s first quarter and throw with precision? Texas has been my lean long before this official pick since I’ve got the Longhorns in the playoff this season and I’m staying here. ... Texas 31, Alabama 24.

I’ll start by making sure you understand that I also find it extremely weird to be taking Texas — the perennial underachiever — against Alabama. It’s as if my fingers are revolting against me as I type it, but I must ignore them because it’s truly how I feel. I believe there’s a good chance Texas will win this game outright because it’s a very talented team and has the better QB in the matchup. That’s important. That said, even if Alabama does the thing it does (win), I don’t know how often the Tide can do so by more than a touchdown, so I’m taking the points. Pick: Texas +7

FPI prediction: Another strong projection in favor of the Crimson Tide, which has the expected 80.9 percent chance to win the game, compared with Texas at 19.1 percent, according to the College Football Power Index, another computer prediction model that picks winners by simulating games 20,000 times.

What we’re betting: Texas has plenty of receiving talent who can get some consistent yards against an Alabama back seven dealing with injury troubles, but the Tide has the bodies to own the line defensively on key downs. Over 54.5, Alabama -7.5

Alabama 31, Texas 20: It’s one thing to play the Crimson Tide close in Austin, but beating an Alabama team at home will be especially tough. Saban has lost eight times at home over 16 seasons, plus Crimson Tide fans turn out for big matchups at home. Sure Texas could surprise, but this will be Alabama’s statement game to remind college football it’s a contender for the national championship.

Best bet: Alabama (-7). Even as our resident Texas fan, I can’t in good faith advise betting on Sark’s Longhorns after watching Quinn Ewers continue to struggle to connect on deep passes against Rice. Alabama will take away the very active Texas run game and make Ewers beat it deep. And I’m not sure he can. — Miller

Best bet: Alabama (-7). This is one of my favorite plays of the week. To beat Bama, you have to win in the trenches on both sides. I don’t think Texas can truly compete with them there and the Tide roll. — Cuff

There are a lot of similarities between Saban and Sarkisian, and that is embodied in their teams. From a talent standpoint, Texas should not be overwhelmed in this game. Ewers showed he can have success against Alabama, but a new coordinator and an improved secondary – even with the injuries – will make a difference.

Ultimately, this is a showcase game for Milroe. He makes the plays necessary to win at home, much like he did against Texas A&M last year. Alabama had four turnovers in that game against the Aggies and still won. If Alabama protects the football, and it will, then it will hold off that Longhorns’ offense in the fourth quarter. Haynes tacks on a late touchdown, and Alabama shows it’s still very much alive as a national championship contender.

Final score: Alabama 38, Texas 28

Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe looked great in last week’s win over Middle Tennessee, but there’s a sizable gap between the Blue Raiders and the Longhorns. In my opinion, Texas has the better quarterback in this battle, which is rather important in a football game. Also, if Ewers goes down again, I have plenty of faith in his backup, Maalik Murphy. I give Alabama a significant edge on the defensive side of the ball, but I’ve seen good offenses beat great defenses way too many times to believe the Longhorns won’t move the ball in this matchup. Even if Alabama wins, it’ll have a hard time pulling away. The Pick: Texas +7.5 (-115)

The narrative for this game, in general, seems to be that Alabama is expected to win on the lines of scrimmage, but Texas has a clear advantage at the QB position. Alex Scarbrough wrote about the game being a test for Milroe and cited some stats.

Take a step back to last season and Milroe’s eight appearances when he threw a total of five touchdowns and three interceptions. He completed just 58.5% of his passes and averaged only 5.6 yards per attempt.

Does one game of three touchdowns, no interceptions, 72.2% completions and 12.9 yards per attempt erase all of that?

Does it count if it’s against Middle Tennessee and not the University of Tennessee?

The caliber of athlete Milroe will face against Texas will be much different. The windows he’ll have to throw into will be much smaller and the players tackling him will be much larger.

Oh, and the stakes will be much higher.

Indeed, the stakes will be higher and the athletes will be better, but what about on the other side?

Last week, Milroe feasted on his cupcake as Scarbrough notes while Ewers posted a rather pedestrian 19/30 for 260 yards, and Rice was able to get a substantial amount of pressure on him.

Looking back to last year, Ewers too completed 58% of his passes in a much greater sample size. He did manage 7.4 YPA, obviously better than Milroe but still not very good, and the difference certainly doesn’t make up for the 85 yards a game that Jalen earned with his legs in the two games where he saw significant action.

Oh, and Ewers road stats? Woof. How about 48% completion, 6.2 YPA and three interceptions in three games for a 110 passer rating? Simply awful, and those games were played in Stillwater, Manhattan and Lawrence. Needless to say, Tuscaloosa is a different animal.

Ewers is getting the hype based on a couple of deep shots he completed in the first quarter of the Alabama game last year, and probably still some based on his recruiting ranking. That’s basically it.

All told, Jalen Milroe put up a 125 passer rating last year and Ewers a 132. That difference is negligible, but one offers literally nothing with his legs while the other is the usually the best athlete on the field.

So, who has the better quarterback?

Look, anything can happen in a college football game and one week against G5 competition isn’t enough to glean anything from. Steve Sarkisian knows the Alabama defense and will have a game script early that is designed to get some chunks, just like last year. If they have similar success early then Texas will hang for a while.

As far as a prediction, I’m pretty confident in Alabama this week. I share the thought that they seem to be better in the trenches, but I think that they win going away because Milroe is going to prove to be the better quarterback in a moment of sweet validation after his home state Longhorns were willing to let him walk as a recruit in favor of Ewers.

It says here that Alabama covers easily, call it 37-17. Of course, that is merely my opinion. Vote and give us yours in the comments.


What will be the result of Texas at Alabama?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    The Eyes of Texas shed tears, Tide rolls by 14+
    (427 votes)
  • 39%
    Tough game but Alabama covers, Tide by 7-13
    (402 votes)
  • 10%
    Instant classic, Tide by 1-6
    (103 votes)
  • 7%
    Sark gets his signature win, Texas pulls the upset (FLAGGED!)
    (81 votes)
1013 votes total Vote Now

Kirk Bohls at the Austin American Statesman notes that Sark really needs a big win.

Sarkisian needs to deliver a signature win. It’s one of many things lacking on his résumé after 26 games in Austin. When you’re 14-12, a whole lot of things are missing even though the team seems a whole lot better than it’s been.

“I think both teams are going to walk out of the stadium with a real firm understanding of this is where we’re at,” Sark said. “And then this is what we need to do to continue to develop our team for the next 10 regular-season games and trying to go win a conference championship. That’s one of the beauties of playing these games.”

That record is brutal, and the offense didn’t look a whole lot better last week. The pressure has to be mounting.

BBQ has been wagered.

There are plenty of stakes in Texas football’s upcoming game vs. Alabama, but Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and Austin Mayor Kirk Watson have added their own beef to the party.

Not figuratively - literally.

The two have a bet going on, where the losing city will have to send barbecue to the winner. If UT wins, Watson will receive Dreamland BBQ from Alabama. If the Crimson Tide emerge victorious, Maddox will get to try the award-winning Micklethwait Craft Meat barbecue.

First off, Dreamland don’t sell no beef. Second, the joke’s on Kirk as we all know it ain’t the best BBQ Tuscaloosa has to offer. Not that he’ll be getting any of it anyhow.

Nick Saban called the game a “street fight” on his radio show last night.

“Everybody has got to look at this like it’s a street fight,” Saban said. “We’re all going to be in the street fight. There’s going to be good things happening, bad things happening and we’ve got to stay positive, supportive and help our players do a great job for 60 minutes in the game. I don’t give a darn what happens in the game. We’re going to play hard, be physical, play with toughness, having the discipline to execute for 60 minutes in the game. Everybody involved in the game, including the fans, have to be supportive in helping the players do that because that’s what it’s going to take.”

There were no real updates on Malachi Moore or Jaylen Key. Both still day to day, able to get in some practice work, will be game time decisions.

Last, the Detroit Lions beat the defending Super Bowl champs in Arrowhead last night, and this happened.

I’d say that a pick six off Patrick Mahomes in your first NFL game is pretty much a dream scenario.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.