December 27, 2006

Scouting the Crimson Tide

SHREVEPORT, La. -- The 2006 Independence Bowl is almost here and that means the matchup against the Alabama Crimson Tide is at hand for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

This has been a hard season for the Crimson Tide. Like the Cowboys, they've had a couple of close losses which could have changed the course of their season if the results were different. The losses to Arkansas and Tennessee were similar to the four buzzer-beaters OSU lost this season. The Tide lost a 24-23 overtime thriller to Arkansas on Sept. 23 and a few weeks later suffered a 16-13 loss at Tennessee on Oct. 21.

And oh yeah, then there's that whole "firing of the coach" thing. Bama alum Mike Shula was fired after the 6-6 record put together by the Tide this season. And their coaching search has been weird to say the least. It was looking like West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez was on his way to Tuscaloosa before backing out at the last minute. And there's been rampant speculation that the Tide is still courting current Miami Dolphins head coach Nick Saban, who has previously said he wasn't interested in the post. But that could be a Les Miles ploy. So we'll see.

The point being: Just how focused on this bowl game is the Alabama program? That's anyone's guess, but they've had more distractions than they'd like leading up to this game.

CRIMSON TIDE AT A GLANCE
2005 record
: 10-2 (6-2 SEC); Defeated Texas Tech 13-10 in the 2006 Cotton Bowl.
Record in 2006: 6-6 (2-6 SEC)
Top player: Quarterback John Parker Wilson passed for 2,539 yards and 16 touchdowns (nine interceptions) while sporting a 57 percent completion percentage.
Current ranking: N/A
Fact of the week: Alabama has appeared in an NCAA-record 53 bowl games - winning 30 of those contests.

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