Not What Some Had In Mind

By Adam Caparell - December 30, 2007

One team's happy to be bowling after a 2-10 2006 campaign. The other team, well, let's just say a trip to Shreveport isn't going to cut it year in and year out at Alabama.

This will mark the second straight season the Crimson Tide finds itself in the Independence Bowl after last year's loss to Oklahoma State came shortly before Nick Saban was tabbed to be the program's savior. But Saban's magic hasn't turned around the Tide the way some 'Bama supporters would have liked - or banked on - before the season began. And thanks to inconsistent offensive play, the highest paid coach in the country has his 6-6 team facing a similar 6-6 Colorado.

While a few more Independence Bowl appearances out of Saban probably will land him in the same waters as Mike Shula, the Shy Guy's playing up the importance of the matchup with the Buffaloes despite the fact he's still on his honeymoon in Tuscaloosa.

"It's a great opportunity for everybody in this game," Saban said Saturday. "This is a defining game for every guy on this team."

Same could be easily said for the Buffaloes who second year coach Dan Hawkins has guided to the postseason after an awful debut in Boulder last season.

"These guys have been very, very special to me, with all the things they've been through and obviously the pain of last year," Hawkins said Saturday.

But can he finish 2007 with a winning record? That'll largely depend on Hawkins' son, quarterback Cody, who guides the Buffaloes offense. The younger Hawkins struggled with turning the ball over this season, throwing 15 interceptions, and faces an Alabama defense that has some legit talent.

So if you're tuning into this one, don't get fouled by the helmets. They're big names with small games. Alabama turned out to be nothing more than an average at best SEC team - so much for that preseason conference title talk - and Colorado still has a long ways to go to get back to those early 90s heydays. So figure it'll be a close one. And that would be all too appropriate for the Independence Bowl considering six of the past eight games have been decided by four points or less.

The Line: -3.5 Alabama
O/U: 51

If I Were A Betting Man: Alabama and the over. The Colorado defense was awful down the stretch and Alabama should have a distinctive "home-field" advantage considering how far the Buffaloes had to travel for this one. As John Parker Wilson goes, so does the Tide and considering Colorado was horendous against the pass (104th in the nation) that bodes well for Wilson. Some might argue the poor stats against the pass is a product of Colorado playing in the Big 12, but I'm not buying it. Alabama has more talent, it's just a matter if it can come together for a full game. Colorado, though, does have the distinctive motivational advantage. Who does this game mean more to? Easily Colorado.

Bowl Season: 3-11 ATS | 11-3 O/U. How about that O/U record?

Posted by Adam Caparell at 02:29 PM on December 30, 2007

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