Maybe it was a mismatch without McCoy. Maybe Garrett Gilbert is the next big thing in college football. Maybe Texas would have won if McCoy had played. Maybe Texas wouldn’t have won regardless. Maybe Alabama was always the better team and the way it played out just made it more dramatic. Maybe we just saw one of the better national championships of recent memory. But Alabama was definitely deserving of the national title.
What a topsy turvy game. I don’t even know where to start. The Alabama miscues? The injury? The apparent blowout? The apparent birth of a legend? Or perhaps the best place to start is the beginning. Let’s do that, and if you didn’t watch every moment of this game, you owe it to yourself to read on and hopefully capture a sliver of the amazing game that unfolded on ABC on Thursday night..
Alabama wins the toss and surprises everyone and takes the ball. Nick Saban is out to prove something, so here comes
Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram and the Crimson Tide. Alabama comes out in the shotgun. What in the name of Bear Bryant are they doing? Run for no gain. “Mr. Saban, your advantage is up front, line up and physically dominate them, don’t get cute, put Ingram in the backfield and ram it down their throats”. False Start. Sack. “Saban. you are a fool”. Incomplete pass. “Maybe he learned his lesson…” Fake Punt, Intercepted. (Jaw drops in utter disbelief) Did that just happen? Really? DID THAT JUST HAPPEN? IS HE TRYING TO THROW THIS GAME?????? Keep in mind I did not even have a rooting interest, I was just insulted on the play-calling. I literally think there could not have been a worse-called series. I know Jim McElwain, the Offensive Coordinator, called those plays, but for an opening drive ou know it was scripted. Alabama planned on coming out and doing that. I have rarely been so insulted in my life in a game in which I had no real rooting interest. I did enjoy Brent Musberger calling it a “Belichick Moment” but otherwise I was appalled as a football fan.
Ok, so Texas gets the ball, gets a few fairly productive plays off and then all of a sudden, the lights go out on Texas’ hopes. Colt McCoy, a man representing Texas’ only real advantage and a fifth-year senior, was now out. Garrett Gilbert
is a highly touted recruit, but no freshman is ready for this. Rose Bowl, National Championship Game, facing the #1 defense in the land, game over. Texas actually got the ball to the goal line, but were then stonewalled by Mount Cody, and the drive stalled. Texas 3, Alabama 0.
Kickoff, time for Alabama to get on track. Fumble, Texas ball. Are you serious? Were Alabama’s players captured and replaced with local high school players? No movement though, Texas 6, Alabama 0.
And pardon the pun, but here is where the Tide turned.
Nick Saban got his head out of the clouds and decided to give the ball to his Heisman Trophy winner. Alabama pushed Texas down the field purely by willpower and took the lead on a short run by the incomparable Mr. Ingram. Alabama leads. The Texas offense started to look like they had never practiced with their QB before. Oh wait, they hadn’t. And Alabama started looking like the #1 team again. Even my sleeper Trent Richardson got into the party with a 40 yard dash to the endzone. Greg McElroy still looked beyond horrible, holding the ball for eons and getting repeatedly sacked. The Coup de Grace was of course the intercepted shovel pass returned for the TD. Mack Brown is right that it is a fairly safe plat call (as explained to Lisa Salters) but the safer play call is not calling time out and letting the clock run out. Alabama 24, Texas 6. Mind you, that is 24 unanswered.
Whoa we just might have a game. Gilbert doesn’t look lost, the Texas defense wasn’t getting abused by Alabama’s offensive line, and there is fight in the old dog yet. Suddenly, the Alabama offense was the predictable one, Texas was moving the ball, and after a strike down the middle to Jordan Shipley, and a recovered onside kick, things were looking up for the Longhorns. Hey, maybe we have a game on our hands here. Sergio Kindle is on fire (again, no pun intended…. ok maybe a little), Alabama suddenly cannot move the ball and after a punt downed at the Alabama 6, and big Mo was on Texas’ side. Alabama 24, Texas 13.
Alabama, however responded, pushing the ball into Texas territory before missing a long field goal. The pendulum of momentum hung in equilibrium between burnt orange and crimson, waiting for someone to tip the scales just enough to swing it in their favor. Garrett Gilbert tipped them, and the pendulum swing. Maturing before the nation’s eyes, Gilbert went from helpless freshman to seasoned veteran, throwing strike after strike to Shipley and finding Shipley once again wide open down the sidelines to draw Texas closer. 24-19, but with only 6:15 to go, Mack Brown had to go for 2. No problem, Gilbert to Buckner. Alabama 24, Texas 21. Try to convince me that Texas fans are not absolutely ecstatic about their future at this point, not to mention that they are right back in this game. 6-0 run by Texas, 24-0 run by Alabama and now a 15-0 run by Texas. Get your popcorn ready. This game went from Oklahoma-USC in 2004 (55-19 USC) to Texas-USC in 2005 with the mastery of Vince Young (the second greatest college football game I have ever seen behind Boise State-Oklahoma). At this point I am glued to my seat as I suspect every fool who kept watching was. All hell has broken loose in Pasadena.
6:15 left in the 4th
Alabama puts a few first downs together, but nothing comes of it. Momentum is decidedly in Texas’ corner, and a true freshman quarterback now has a chance to drive Texas down the field to complete one of the great comebacks in history. And that’s where it all went horribly wrong. Saban dials up another blitz and this one hits, Gilbert fumbles and Alabama recovers inside the 5. I need a paper bag, a shot, anything to keep me from hyperventilating from watching this game. Alabama is going to score and it will all be over. Ingram breaks a tackle and tumbles into the endzone and into the nightmares of every Longhorns fan. How excruciating would that be? As a Notre Dame fan, I have not known a big game where we had a chance, but I can imagine it feels like having your intestines being pulled out through your nostrils. Gilbert throws a pick and it is all over. The Tide rolls again.
So what do we make of it all? List format? I think so.
- Alabama has one of the best defenses I have seen at the collegiate level.
- The future is bright for Mack Brown, Garrett Gilbert, and the Longhorns.
- I, and everyone else, feels awful for Colt McCoy. He put one hell of a career together and was the ultimate professional after being forced to watch as his team went on without him. It had to have felt like watching his own funeral. His team going on without him and not playing at the same level he had brought them to. Extraordinarily painful.
- Had Texas won, it would have gone down as the 3rd best college game in my lifetime. It would go rig
ht behind Boise-Oklahoma in 2007 and USC-Texas 2004 and directly in front of Notre Dame-USC (for me, even though it was a loss, it was an incredible game for Notre Dame faithful), and Ohio State-Miami in double overtime.
- I liked the endzone celebration where the defensive lineman just threw the ball randomly, even though it was a 15 yard penalty.
- Mark Ingram is 19 years old. The entire SEC just gasped in horror and took the fetal position.
- The Texas’ D wasnt as bad as it looked in the first half, and probably wasnt as good as it looked in the second half.
- Jordan Shipley is the next Wes Welker.
- Alabama’s offensive line has not committed holding penalty in the last 38 quarters. SEC, still in fetal position.
- Greg McElroy, for all his ball holding this game, has not lost since 8th grade. Wow.
- Alabama was the best team in college football this year and are rightful national champions.
I understand Texas fans feeling an entitlement to the title since they lost their best player and still put up one hell of afight but you need a little bit of luck to win, and tonight Texas just had no luck on this day. Look at the bright side though, the kid who was just thrust into the National Title Game and almost won it is a freshman. I am sure this will not be Texas’ last rodeo. And yes, that pun was intended. When you look back you will see 37-21, but it was so much more, and fans of both teams should be proud.
Great season, Season Wrap Up to come soon.