Saban's players execute a Gatorade shower blitz
The 2010 BCS title game was won by the Alabama Crimson Tide in a wild game in the Rose Bowl Thursday night.
Even as early as the coin toss you just knew something was awry about this game. Saban won the coin toss and decided to take the ball. Highly unusual call by a thoroughly defensive minded coach. Before the smoke had cleared from the pregame fireworks displays, Bama had gone three and out. Ok, well that didn't work out at all, I thought. For whatever reason, Saban thought his punter P.J. Fitzgerald throwing the ball out of a fake punt formation from his own 20 yard line was a good idea. Fitzgerald's FLOATER of a pass was picked off by Texas at the Bama 37. Four plays later, Texas was on the Bama 11 yard line. An option play was called and Colt McCoy started running left, one of his linemen got blownup and McCoy tried to get back to the line of scrimmage, he was then slammed by Bama defender Marcell Dareus into another lineman. McCoy got up and trotted to the sideline and then went down to a knee. Texas called timeout. McCoy's night was done after a freak injury to his shoulder. Enter true freshman QB Garrett Gilbert. His first play was a handoff to D.J. Monroe who got down to the Bama 1 yard line. It seemed like a great start but then Texas lined up with 5 men in the backfield and Bama had a personal foul and the play was called off. The ball moved to the Bama 2. Three plays later Texas had not gotten in the end zone and took 3 points. If you can't get a TD rushing the ball from 2 yards out on 4 straight tries you don't deserve any points. Mack Brown didn't risk it. He should have. Bama forgot to field the short kickoff and Texas easily recovered. This was going to be an off-kilter game, as you recall. Three plays only yielded 5 yards for Texas and they took another FG. The score was 6-0 Texas and Bama had run 4 plays. A trade of punts gave Bama good field position for the first time towards the end of the 1st quarter. By the end of the quarter, the Crimson Tide were 3 yards from the Texas goal line.
Two runs later Mark Ingram was across the goal line. Three punts later, Bama had the ball on the Texas 49. Trent Richardson took the handoff and went screaming through a big hole in the middle of the Texas D-line. As there was no Safety back deep for Texas, Richardson didn't stop running until he hit the end zone. Texas was finally moving the ball again after a good kickoff return gave the Horns the ball on their own 40. Gilbert threw an INT right to Javier Arenas to kill that drive in Bama territory. Two punts and a good Arenas punt return later, Bama was set up at the Texas 29. The offense stalled at the Horns 9 yard line after QB Greg McElroy seeming didn't know where the first down marker was and started to go to the field a yard short of the first down and was cracked by two Texas defenders. Saban finally decided it was time to act like himself and kicked the FG. I think he should have gone for it. Texas was in shock. The score was 17-6 in favor of Bama. Mack Brown must have been out of it for the next sequence of plays. Texas did do anything with the kickoff return and found themselves at their own 28. A safe run play picked up 9 yards. Great, let's go to halftime right? NO. Mack Brown called timeout, let his frosh QB try a shovel pass which Brown hoped would get the Horns to the 50 yard line where said frosh QB could try a heave to the end zone. There were 9 seconds left and Brown was hoping to pick up 13 yards on a shovel pass and use his last timeout for a Hail Mary pass? Did Texas hire Les Miles and Gary Crowton for the game? In any event, Marcell Dareus picked off the shovel pass and turned on the invincibility mode for a TD (see below) to make it 24-7 for Bama. This game is over some people probably thought. And, for all intents and purposes, it had to be over.
The game went stale in the 3rd quarter with 6 consecutive punts. The last one of that punt sequence set Texas up with good field position. On the 5th play of the Texas drive, Gilbert hit Jordan Shipley on a 44 yard bomb for a TD. Before you could really say good for Texas, Brown didn't go for 2 pts to make it a 24-14 game. Before you could start criticizing that move, Brown calls for the onside kick which was perfectly directed off a Bama player and recovered by Texas. It looked like the Horns took the idea straight out of the Waterboy. Texas didn't do anything with the recovery and punted 3 plays later. A Trent Richardson run ended the quarter.
The continuation of the Bama drive took the Tide all the way to the Texas 34 where the drive ended on a missed FG. Gilbert marched the Horns down the field and connected with Shipley on a 28 yard TD pass. The Bama secondary completely blew the assignment and Shipley was wide open. A successful 2 point conversion made the game 24-21 in favor of Bama. Perhaps Mack Brown knew what he was doing not going for 2 pts early on? Bama could not pass or run the ball very well and punted after taking 3 minutes off the clock. This left Texas with plenty of time (3:14) to go down the field again to set up a game tying FG or get a TD to take the lead. After Bama took a holding penalty, Texas was on their own 17. Nobody was looking out for Gilbert's blindside on the ensuing play. Bama's Eryk Anders blitzed and crushed Gilbert from behind and the ball came loose (Anders used similar technique in applying the Gatorade to Saban above). The Tide recovered and Ingram got his 2nd rushing TD 3 plays later. Now the game was really over. But, the SEC hadn't given itself enough of a victory margin. Something wasn't right. Gilbert made it right by throwing another INT (Arenas again). Trent Richardson wanted to show the nation that he too knows how to run the ball and 3 rushes later, he was in the end zone for his 2nd TD. In the continuing theme of outlandish kicking, Leigh Tiffin banged the upright with his extra point attempt. We all got robbed by not seeing if McCoy could get it done against Bama's Defense. Nevertheless, hits are part of the game and this most important of games should serve as a reminder to get your backup some meaningful snaps throughout the season. Garrett Gilbert was able to position Texas for a shot at a tie or a win with 2 TD passes, but he also threw 4 INTs and lost a fumble which helped to seal the Horns' fate.
Final Score, Alabama 37, Texas 21.
Stars of the game, Offensive: Heisman winner Bama RB Mark Ingram-22 carries, 116 yards, 2 TDs, 2 catches, 12 yards; Bama RB Trent Richardson-19 rushes, 109 yards, 2 TDs, 2 catches, 19 yards; Texas WR Jordan Shipley-10 catches, 122 yards, 2 TDs
Stars of the game, Defensive: Bama DE Marcell Dareus, 1 INT, 28 yards, TD, 1 tackle/game changing injury caused, Bama DB Javier Arenas-2 INTs, 3 yards
Odd Stats of the night: Texas total yards 276, Alabama total yards 263 (58 passing)--Bama won the game even though QB Greg McElroy was 6/11 passing for 58 yards. The Tide only converted 2/12 3rd downs. Despite being outgained, Bama had two RBs eclipse 100 yards on the ground (Texas came into the game allowing 61.15 yards rushing per game) enabling the Tide to hold on to the ball for 33:39. Jordan Shipley return yards: 0.
Implications: In retrospect, how can you deny that undefeated SEC champ Auburn should have been in the 2005 BCS title game (Orange Bowl) against Pete Carroll's Trojans instead of Oklahoma? When the SEC makes the BCS championship game, the conference does not disappoint. The SEC claimed its 6th BCS title (or half of the total BCS title games) and has won the last four titles in a row with three different teams (2 from the SEC West, LSU & Bama, 1 from the SEC East-Florida). If Notre Dame can get a rule about automatically qualifying for the BCS, how about a rule stating an undefeated SEC champ is automatically in the BCS title game? I'm not arguing that Auburn would have won, but that they should have been in the game. At the end of the day the SEC reign over college football continues. No other conference has pulled off four titles in a row, much less with 3 different teams. Cue the SEC chant and go back to the drawing board all you other conferences.