#2 Texas - 21, #1 Alabama - 37
- Eddie Pells, AP National Writer
January 8, 2010
PASADENA, CA. -- The houndstooth hat is a memory—the Snake, Joe Willie
and Bart Starr replaced by guys named Julio, Javier and Mount Cody.
Marcell Dareus picks off a shuffle pass and runs it back for a
touchdown in the Citi BCS National Championship game.
Alabama football, though, is alive and well, thanks to a defense that
would have made the Bear smile.
That defense knocked Texas quarterback Colt McCoy out of the BCS title
game early Thursday night, then made a big play to save the win late
and restore glory to Bear Bryant’s football factory with a 37-21
victory for the Crimson Tide’s first national title since 1992.
The Tide was the unanimous No. 1 in The Associated Press poll.
“We back,” said Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, the offensive MVP.
Hanging onto a three-point lead and with momentum on the other side,
linebacker Eryk Anders preserved the victory, forcing a fumble on his
blindside sack of Texas backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert with 3:02
Ingram scored three plays later to give the top-ranked Tide (14-0)
breathing room, then Trent Richardson added a late touchdown to make
it look like a blowout it really wasn’t.
McCoy, injured on the Texas offense’s fifth play, watched most of it
from the sideline with an injured throwing shoulder.
“I would have given anything to be out there, because it would have
been different,” he said.
It wasn’t, though, and Nick Saban, in just his third year at
Tuscaloosa, helped Alabama earn its eighth title since the polls began
in the 1930s, and its seventh AP title.
Tide quarterback Greg McElroy took a knee to end the game, popped up
to his feet, raised the ball high in one hand and hugged a teammate.
The celebration on the floor of the Rose Bowl—not normally the Tide’s
“It feels good going down in history,” Terrence Cody said. “It’s hard
to do, but we won.”
It was a tough game dominated by big-play defense.
Marcell Dareus will join Ingram, Cody, receiver Julio Jones, defensive
back Javier Arenas and the rest in Crimson Tide lore after knocking
McCoy down and out, 4:06 into the game.
“I just heard a thump when I hit him,” Dareus said. “I did lay it
down pretty hard. I didn’t try to, but it felt great.”
A bit later, Dareus picked off Gilbert’s shovel pass and returned it
28 yards for a TD and a 24-6 lead late in the second quarter.
But this game was far from over.
“It was like we’d won the game at halftime,” Saban said. “But you
can’t accept being average. You’re playing a team in the national
championship game that knows how to win.”
The second half turned out to be anything but a laugher with Gilbert
in the game—a highly recruited freshman who was Texas’ “quarterback
of the future” but had thrown only 26 college passes coming into this
He threw two touchdown passes to All-American Jordan Shipley to trim
the deficit to 24-21 with 6:15 left, and after an Alabama punt, he
had the ball at the 7-yard line, 93 yards away from one of the most
improbable comeback stories in the history of the game.
But after an Alabama holding penalty moved the ball to the 17, Gilbert
dropped back to pass and got rocked by Anders, a senior who plays in
the shadow of Cody and fellow All-American Rolando McClain. The ball
went flying and Courtney Upshaw recovered.
Three plays later, Ingram surged into the end zone from the 1 for a
10-point lead. A few minutes later, after Gilbert’s third interception
of the night, Richardson scored his second touchdown to make it 37-21.
Ingram finished with 116 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and
Richardson had 109 yards and two scores as Alabama beat Texas for the
first time in nine meetings between two of college football’s most
successful teams. It also was the fourth straight national title for
the Southeastern Conference.
Before Ingram brought the first Heisman back to Alabama, the Tide
used to point to all its championships and say those were better than
winning Heismans (Remember, Auburn?).
Now, Alabama has both.
“I don’t think anybody in the country worked harder than us,” Ingram
said. “We played a great game today.”
Dareus finished with one tackle, one interception and one touchdown,
but all were game-changers.
Seeking its second national title in five years, second-ranked Texas
(13-1) got to the game on the back of McCoy, its All-America
quarterback, who often looked like a one-man show in leading the
Longhorns to 13 straight wins.
After the injury, McCoy was asking to go back in to finish his last
college game. His dad, interviewed on ABC, said the injury wasn’t that
But Texas coach Mack Brown decided to err on the side of caution, and
McCoy spent the second half wearing a headset on the sideline, trying
to encourage his teammates.
The Longhorns defense, ranked third in the country in yards allowed,
kept things close while Gilbert got his feet underneath him.
And, boy, did he.
He led the Longhorns on a five-play, 59-yard drive to make it 24-13,
then 60 yards for the second score, and suddenly, the Tide was falling
apart, not rolling. The 2-point conversion made it 24-21.
“It’s a hard learning curve but he learned fast,” Brown said. “At one
point, I thought he was going to win the ballgame.”
The Tide, however, hung on and Saban became the first coach since the
polls began in 1936 to win national titles with two schools. He won
the 2003 BCS championship with LSU.
The program was grounded, of course, in the hardscrabble work-ethic
brought to Tuscaloosa in the 1960s by The Bear, who roamed the
sideline in his houndstooth hat and painted the quintessential
portrait of a football coach in those days.
His legacy still permeates almost everything at Alabama. But it was
Saban, who took over a program decimated by scandals, bad decisions
and NCAA troubles over the past decade, who convinced the Tide
faithful they had to let go of the past if they were ever going to
enjoy the present.
It took him just three short years, and now ‘Bama is back.
“Everybody has made a great team and that’s why this team is good,”
Saban said. “It’s not just because of me. I’m proud of the team and
proud of the way they played today and I’m really proud of the state