Alabama, Texas To Meet In BCS Title Game

Alabama and Texas have qualified for college football's National Championship Game, which will be played next month at the Rose Bowl. Alabama finished No. 1 in the Bowl Championship Series and Texas finished No 2. The lineups for the bowl games were announced Sunday.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

We now know who will play for the college football National Championship a month from now. Alabama will face Texas on January 7th for the Bowl Championship Series national title game in Pasadena, which means that three unbeaten teams - Texas Christian, Cincinnati and Boise State - will not get a chance to compete. Commentator John Feinstein is covering this story once again this year.

Good morning, John.

JOHN FEINSTEIN: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: I suppose we should start by noting that the big name schools made it in. Alabama and Texas have the biggest name football programs of those five we've alluded to.

FEINSTEIN: I'm shocked. Shocked to learn that the big name programs were chosen to play in the championship game. This is the way the system works. If your name is Texas, you get in - even if you barely won your last game Saturday night against Nebraska, you needed an official replay review to get your last second field goal.

I think they probably got it right, Steve, but the point is how do we know without Texas or Alabama, which was dominant in beating Florida on Saturday to get their spot - how do we know, without the teams competing against one another, whether they're better than TCU or Boise State or Cincinnati. And that's the problem. You can't tell an undefeated team that it doesn't get to play for a championship. In any sport on earth - or for that matter on Mars, I think - except in the BCS.

INSKEEP: Although you think they probably got it right here. Your sense is that Alabama and Texas may, in fact, have been a little bit stronger than TCU or Cincinnati or Boise State?

FEINSTEIN: I would say that about Alabama. Again, based on the way they beat Florida on Saturday. I'm not so sure I would say that about Texas. Their league, the Big 12, which is usually a very good league, was down this year. Oklahoma, which is usually a very good team, was only 7-5. They played - again, Nebraska, if there had been an 18 tournament, wouldn't even have been invited, the team they beat on Saturday.

TCU went on the road and had impressive wins. Boise State beat Oregon, which is going to play in the Rose Bowl. And Cincinnati played in a pretty good league, the Big East, and won maybe the best game of the season Saturday when it beat Pittsburgh.

So that's the reason you have a tournament is to find out so that you and I aren't sitting here saying, well, I think, maybe� There's one way to find the answer to that.

INSKEEP: Well, let's remember how this system works, because we try to explain it every year and it only gets more confusing. But there's a computer ranking. There's these votes that are taken. There's a complicated system that ranks the teams. The top two teams get into the national title game. Everybody else gets to complain that they're not in the game. But we should mention that these other three undefeated teams also get bowl bids. That's the consolation prize, I suppose, right?

FEINSTEIN: Right. Well - and in this case the good news is that TCU and Boise State, which are not in one of the six so-called BCS conferences, where those 66 power schools reside, because they went undefeated and were so impressive will get to play in the Fiesta Bowl, which is one of the BCS Bowls and will get that big payout that you're talking about - $17 million.

Of course, they managed to put Boise State against TCU in that bowl game to make sure that you won't have a situation like last year where Utah went undefeated and played Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and just hammered them, which was embarrassing for the BCS.

INSKEEP: Oh, meaning that putting those two undefeated teams together assures that at least one of them is not going to be undefeated and claiming to have the national title.

FEINSTEIN: Well, that and they won't go in and, say, beat a Florida or beat a Georgia Tech, one of the BCS teams and make them look bad that way.

INSKEEP: Ari Fleischer, former presidential spokesman for George W. Bush, is now defending the BCS. He's their spokesman. What's that about, very, very briefly?

FEINSTEIN: Well, just that, I guess, if you can spin something eloquently enough maybe you can get people to believe that it's a good thing. And Ari Fleischer's very good at that. And they feel that they need to defend the system rather than improve the system. I would certainly disagree with that.

INSKEEP: John, thanks very much.

FEINSTEIN: Thanks, Steve.

INSKEEP: Comments from John Feinstein, author of �A Civil War: Army Versus Navy.� This is NPR News.

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