NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!

NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!

It was the perfect storm as Alabama returned to the throne room as king of college football Thursday night. How good was it? Bama winning in the Rose Bowl, led by its Heisman Trophy winner, and finally defeating fellow football blueblood Texas. The Crimson Tide won its 13th national championship with an all-time best 14-0 record.



In just his third season as Alabama's head coach, Nick Saban provided Alabama with its first national championship since 1992 as the top-ranked Crimson Tide defeated Texas, 37-21.

Goliath wasn't at his best, but David had a busted slingshot. It's tough to have a championship bout when the contender loses its primary weapon. That was the woe that befell Texas at the BCS Championship Game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. All-America quarterback Colt McCoy played only part of the first series for the Longhorns before going out with an injury.

Final Statistics:

Texas found an adequate back-up quarterback in redshirt freshman Garrett Gilbert, but before Gilbert hit his stride Bama had taken a 24-6 lead.

Gilbert pulled the Longhorns back to within a field goal and had the ball when San Antonio native Eryk Anders, Alabama's jack linebacker, got a clean blindside hit on Gilbert. The ball came out and Alabama recovered at the three-yard line. Bama's slim three-point lead ballooned to the final 16-point margin with two short touchdown drives in the final two minutes.

Alabama almost could not have had a worse start to the game. Bama opened the game with an unusual lineup of three wideouts, but one of them -- Julio Jones -- was at tight end. The Tide ran Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram at left tackle and he got nothing. Bama was then penalized five yards, suffered a sack on Greg McElroy and had an incomplete pass to bring up fourth down.

Who would have expected punter P.J. Fitzgerald to try a pass from the Tide 20? Almost no one. But he tried to pass to Dre Kirkpatrick, a reserve cornerback who plays on punt coverage. The pass was underthrown and intercepted by Blake Gideon for Texas at the Alabama 37.

The Longhorns got a 16 yard run from Tre Newton for a first down at the Alabama 11. On the next play, McCoy kept and was hit by Bama's . McCoy went down with a shoulder injury and was unable to return.

Little used Garrett Gilbert took McCoy's place at quarterback. The damage wasn't immediate. Flanker D.J. Monroe ran 10 yards for a first down to the one. The Longhorns, however, were unable to get a touchdown, settling for an 18-yard field goal by Hunter Lawrence.

On the ensuing kickoff, another pooch kick, Bama failed to field it and it was recovered by Texas' Curtis Brown at the Alabama 30. That led to another Lawrence field, a 42-yard effort that gave the Longhorns a 6-0 lead.

Bama finally got a little offense, but Bama and Texas exchanged punts before the Tide could really get it in gear.

Ingram had back-to-back runs of eight and nine yards for first down at the Texas 40. After Roy Upchurch gained five yards from wildcat formation, McElroy completed a pass to Julio Jones that went for 23 yards and a first down to the Texas 12.

On first down, from pistol formation, Ingram gained nine. Another Ingram carry, a dive over right guard, got the first down at the two. On first down, with nose tackle Terrence Cody helping block from the backfield, Ingram went over left guard untouched for the touchdown. Leigh Tiffin kicked the extra point.

Bama had gone 57 yards in seven plays, taking 3:27, to take the lead at 7-6.

Bama's next scoring drive wouldn't take so long. After an exchange of punts, Bama started at the Texas 49. Trent Richardson didn't gain anything on first down, but got it all on second down with James Carpenter having a terrific clearing block. Richardson burst through the left side and left the defense behind as he went 49 yards for a touchdown. Tiffin kicked it to 14-6 with 7:59 remaining in the first half.

Texas drove into Bama territory, but the drive was stopped when Javier Arenas picked off a pass at the Alabama 25. Bama ended up punting the Longhorns deep into Texas territory, and Arenas got the Tide off to a good start with a 12-yard return of the Longhorns' punt, setting Bama up at the Texas 29.

The drive stalled a yard short of a first down, and with time running out Tiffin was called on for a 26-yard field goal that gave Alabama a 17-6 lead with 29 seconds to play.

That would have been the halftime score, but Texas called a time out with 20 seconds to play. Back-up quarterback Garrett Gilbert appeared to be attempting a shovel pass, but bobbled the ball and it was snatched by Tide defensive end Marcell Dareus at the Texas 28. Dareus went in for the touchdown and with three seconds to play in the half, Alabama had a 24-6 lead.

Alabama's offense was anemic in the third quarter. The Tide had three full possessions and went three-and-out in all of them. Bama had three total yards of offense. Moreover, Ingram suffered what appeared to be a leg of ankle injury.

Alabama's defense held pretty well until the final moments of the third quarter when Gilbert completed a 44-yard touchdown pass to star receiver Jordan Shipley down the middle of the field. Lawrence kicked the extra point to leave Alabama with a 24-13 lead with 1:21 remaining in the third quarter.

Going to the fourth quarter, Alabama was in bad shape with no Ingram and a second-and-seven at the Alabama nine. Richardson gave Bama some breathing room with a nine-yard carry for a first down at the 18.

However, it was Texas penalties that flipped the field. The Longhorns were flagged for a pass interference and a hands to the face personal foul on consecutive plays, giving Bama 30 yards. The drive stalled at the Texas 44 when Tiffin's 52-yard field goal with 11:13 to play in the game was wide left.

Texas wasn't rolling over. Starting at the Texas 35, Gilbert took the Longhorns on a 10-play touchdown drive. He completed seven passes in the drive, including a 28-yard touchdown pass to an unguarded Shipley on a -and-13 play. When Gilbert rifled a completion to Dan Buckner, the Horns had cut Bama's lead to a mere three points at 24-21 with 6:15 to play in the game.

Ingram returned to the game for Alabama and had a seven-yard pass reception and 19-yard run to get the ball into Texas territory, but the drive fizzled at the Texas 37, giving the Longhorns one last chance.

Eryk Anders snatched that chance away with his blindside hit on Gilbert. The ball squirted loose and down to the three where Courtney Upshaw recovered it for Bama. Three plays later, Ingram went in behind Terrence Cody and Preston Dial from the backfield and James Carpenter and Mike Johnson on the line for a touchdown and 31-21 lead.

It was more than a little surprising that wasn't the final score. But with 1:43 to play, Arenas picked up his second interception, giving Bama the ball at the Texas 26. Trent Richardson made a nice run to the 10, and a facemask call put the ball at the five. One play later, Richardson closed out the scoring with a two-yard run. (It close out the scoring because Tiffin's extra point kick hit the upright and was no good.)

Tyrone King had a final interception for Alabama so the Tide could finish the 37-21 national championship win with the Bama quarterback taking a knee.

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