Saturday, January 9, 2010

Alabama Wins!

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07:  Quarterback Garret...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
More than 24 hours later, and I'm still giddy over the Alabama Crimson Tide's 37-21 victory over the Texas Longhorns in the BCS National Championship Game.  It's Alabama's first championship since 1992, and either their eighth or twelfth or thirteenth or seventeenth national championship -- it all depends on who's doing the counting and what they're counting.

The eight championships are from the Poll Era (1936-present) and include AP and UPI polls, and not necessarily both in the same year.  The College Football Data Warehouse says that Alabama has twelve championships dating back to 1925.  The school claims thirteen championships and has the merchandise to prove it.  If you count every championship recognized by any sort of reputable source, whether it was a consensus pick or not, you can count seventeen for the Crimson Tide.  The school picked up four trophies for their Thursday night win -- the crystal BCS trophy along with others from the Associated Press, the National Football Foundation, and the Football Writers Association.

The SEC is now 6-0 in BCS Championship games and has won the last four straight.  Florida won in 2006 and 2008, LSU won in 2007.  Coach Nick Saben became the second coach (Urban Meyer) to win two BCS championships and the first to win two at different schools (LSU in 2003).  Running back Mark Ingram is the second player (Matt Leinart) to win the Heisman Trophy and the BCS championship in the same season, and just the second running back (Tony Dorsett) in the Poll Era to win the Heisman and any kind of championship in the same year.

The game was a little closer than the final score would indicate.  Alabama started slow and made a serious early mistake when they threw up an interception on an fake punt attempt, but the defense limited Texas to just two field goals.  Alabama woke up and took over and was ready to go into the locker room with a 17-6 halftime lead, but with the seconds winding down in the first half, Texas tried a little shuttle pass.  The receiver showed off his juggling skills until Alabama lineman Marcell Dareus snatched it and ran 28 yards for the score.

The play gave Alabama a 24-6 halftime lead and almost cost them the game.  They came out flat in the second half and let Texas's high-powered offense cut the lead to just three.  Another great Alabama defensive play settled it.  Linebacker Eryk Anders got a blindside sack on freshman QB Garrett Gilbert.  The ball came loose and Courtney Upshaw recovered it on the Texas three.  Three plays later, Ingram punched it in to get the lead back to ten.  Alabama got another turnover and scored another last-minute touchdown.  Kicker Leigh Tiffin capped a record-setting career at Alabama by missing the extra point for the 16-point win.

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