TEMPE, ARIZ., DEC. 31 -- If the defenses of Alabama and Louisville are as good as their statistics, the Fiesta Bowl may hinge on one kick.
Which could explain why No. 25 Alabama has been installed as a nine-point favorite over a higher-ranked team. Few college teams have had a field-goal weapon like Phillip Doyle.
"With him, it's three points in the bank anytime you cross the 50," said quarterback Gary Hollingsworth, who will direct the Crimson Tide offense against No. 18 Louisville Tuesday at 74,800-seat Sun Devil Stadium. "To me, he's the greatest kicker in the world. He's pulled us out of so many games."
The Tide came to rely on Doyle so much in enemy territory that Hollingsworth, who completed 140 of 282 passes for 1,463 yards, with four touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
"I guess it did look like we would just pull up at the 30 sometimes, bring in Phil and turn it over to the defense," Hollingsworth said.
Doyle, a senior, holds Southeastern Conference records of 78 career field goals and 105 attempts. His six field goals against Southwestern Louisiana set an SEC single-game mark, and he made 24 of 29 this year.
Alabama (7-4) will be the first SEC team to play in the 20-year-old Fiesta Bowl, which found it difficult to attract teams this year because Arizona voters rejected a statewide holiday for Martin Luther King.
In honor of King, Alabama players will wear a black armband and Louisville helmets will bear a "Dream Lives On" decal.
Louisville is 9-1-1, but has received relatively little recognition.
The spotlight also skipped Louisville kicker-punter Klaus Wilmsmeyer, a workhorse who averaged 42.9 yards on 48 punts and made nine of 11 field goal attempts.
What attention the Cardinals have drawn focused on Browning Nagle, a prototypical NFL quarterback at 6 feet 2 and 220 pounds. Nagle threw for 2,150 yards and 16 touchdowns.