BCS championship: Alabama vs. Texas in-game report
Alabama 37, Texas 21 (final)
Roll (it up) Tide.
Alabama tacked on a needless touchdown on Trent Richardson's two-yard run with 47 seconds left, and then Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert had a fourth (ugh) pass intercepted before the Crimson Tide ran out the clock to win its first Bowl Championship Series national title.
Alabama last won a national title following the 1992 season, when they won the 1993 Sugar Bowl.
Alabama 31, Texas 21 (fourth quarter)
It wasn't The Drive. More like The Hit.
With Texas taking over at its own seven-yard line and needing to drive 93 yards for the winning score with 3 minutes 14 seconds left in the game, the Longhorns gained 10 yards on a penalty before quarterback Garrett Gilbert was hit by Eryk Anders and fumbled.
Alabama's Courtney Upshaw recovered the ball at the Texas three-yard line, and three plays later Mark Ingram churned into the end zone for the touchdown that all but clinched the Bowl Championship Series title game for the Crimson Tide with 2:01 left.
Alabama 24, Texas 21 (fourth quarter)
Garrett Gilbert is quickly becoming the most beloved Longhorn since Bevo.
The freshman quarterback who was simply dreadful in the first half after replacing injured starter Colt McCoy has just thrown a second touchdown pass, this one for 28 yards to a wide open Jordan Shipley. Then, for good measure, Gilbert zipped a two-point conversion pass to Dan Buckner to pull Texas to within 24-21 with 6:15 left in the game.
Alabama is going to have to pick up several first downs, possibly with Mark Ingram still on the sideline because of an injury. Is this Vince Young all over again?
Alabama 24, Texas 13 (fourth quarter)
It's hard to play defense when you keep committing pass interference and personal foul penalties, but that was the predicament Texas found itself in on Alabama's last drive.
Fortunately for the Longhorns, the Crimson Tide failed to convert on third down and Leigh Tiffin missed a 52-yard field goal that would have given Alabama a two-touchdown lead.
So Texas is still clinging to faint hopes with 11:13 left and the game in the hands of freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert. Alabama's Mark Ingram has not returned since limping off the field with 7:52 left in the third quarter.
Alabama 24, Texas 13 (end of third quarter)
What's this, a ballgame?
That appears to be what we have on our hands after much-maligned (by me, anyway) Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert connected with Jordan Shipley on a 44-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter and then the Longhorns recovered an ensuing onside kick that bounced off Alabama's Brad Smelley.
The Texas fans are standing and cheering even after their Longhorns failed to pick up a first down as Alabama is pinned inside its 10-yard line and Mark Ingram is still sidelined with an injury. The Crimson Tide might have to turn to quarterback Greg McElroy to open up their offense in the final quarter.
Alabama 24, Texas 6 (third quarter)
Are there going to be any stars left on the field by the end of the game?
Texas quarterback Colt McCoy is done because of a shoulder injury, and Mark Ingram, Alabama's Heisman Trophy-winning tailback, just limped off the field after apparently suffering some sort of foot or ankle injury.
The Longhorns' defense sprang to life on the ensuing two plays, stuffing Trent Richardson for losses. But Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert continued his game-long struggles on the next drive and Alabama will take over at its own 20-yard line with 5:34 left in the third quarter. Ingram did not accompany the Crimson Tide offense as it jogged onto the field.
Alabama 24, Texas 6 (third quarter)
Not only can Alabama really play football, but the Crimson Tide sports information people are super helpful. They just distributed some halftime notes including a quote from Alabama Coach Nick Saban, who called defensive end Marcell Dareus impaling Texas quarterback Colt McCoy in the shoulder with his helmet "a great hit." I'm sure McCoy would concur.
Also of note: Alabama is 28-1 under Saban when leading at halftime, with the loss coming against Louisiana State in 2007. And the Crimson Tide already rushed for 148 yards by halftime against a Texas defense that was allowing only 62 yards a game, best in the nation.
Alabama 24, Texas 6 (third quarter)
Just when it seemed as if Texas might as well have had Gilbert Gottfried at quarterback, reserve freshman Garrett Gilbert completed a pair of passes, leading to first downs to give the Longhorns a brief spark on their first drive of the third quarter.
But he couldn't sustain the momentum and Texas had to punt after a man dressed in a yellow costume raced onto the field and made some silly moves before being hauled away. Mack Brown might want to know: Can he play quarterback?
It was just officially announced that Texas starting quarterback Colt McCoy will not return because of the right shoulder injury he sustained in the first quarter.
Alabama 24, Texas 6 (halftime)
What do you think Texas quarterbacks think about Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus? (Cue the profanity-laced tape of Tommy Lasorda talking about New York Mets slugger Dave Kingman.)
Dareus knocked Texas starter Colt McCoy out of the game early in the first quarter with a helmet to the right shoulder and then intercepted a bobbled shovel pass by backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert and returned it for a touchdown just before halftime to give the Crimson Tide a commanding 24-6 lead.
Texas netted one first down on its final seven drives of the first half, and that came on a running play. The Longhorns' medical personnel are going to need to find a way to patch up McCoy's shoulder and get him back on the field in the second half. But that doesn't seem likely with McCoy already spotted in street clothes.
The first-half stats weren't pretty, unless you were an Alabama fan. The Crimson Tide gained 182 yards to Texas' 91, with Mark Ingram (90 yards) and Trent Richardson (66) hardly bottled up by the Longhorns' vaunted defense that ranks No. 1 in the nation against the run.
I'd hate to see the quarterback rating on Gilbert, who completed one of 10 passes for negative-four yards with two interceptions.
Alabama 17, Texas 6 (second quarter)
All that talk about Texas' defense having its way with Alabama's running game isn't amounting to much.
Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson have been plenty prolific so far, with the duo helping the Crimson Tide drive inside the Longhorns' 20-yard line before the drive stalled and Leigh Tiffin kicked a 26-yard field goal to give Alabama a 17-6 lead with 29 seconds left before halftime.
Alabama 14, Texas 6 (second quarter)
Alabama hasn't had anyone this fast since Forrest Gump returned kickoffs.
The Crimson Tide's Trent Richardson bolted up the middle as if wearing turbo-charged cleats and raced for a 49-yard touchdown to give Alabama a 14-6 lead with 7:59 left before halftime.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the trouble the Longhorns find themselves in. Quarterback Colt McCoy's right shoulder injury will be re-evaluated at halftime and Texas needs him to return to kick-start its sluggish offense. Freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert was finally unleashed on the Longhorns' last drive, and the results weren't pretty: a pair of incompletions and no first down for Texas.
Alabama 7, Texas 6 (second quarter)
Another fruitless drive for the Longhorns and freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert. Memo to Texas Coach Mack Brown: Don't wait until third down before letting Gilbert pass. That's been the case on each of the last three drives, none of which has resulted in a first down.
Alabama has the ball back on its own 42-yard line with momentum firmly in its corner.
Alabama 7, Texas 6 (second quarter)
Alabama doesn't have any issues at quarterback. Or at running back, for that matter.
Three plays after Crimson Tide quarterback Greg McElroy completed a 23-yard pass to Julio Jones, Mark Ingram ran untouched up the middle for a two-yard touchdown to give Alabama its first lead of the game. Blocking for the Heisman Trophy winner on the play: 354-pound nose guard Terrence Cody, who bulldozed a defender out of the way.
Texas has been unable to gain a first down on the two drives since freshman Garrett Gilbert -- the Longhorns' version of Matt Barkley -- replaced injured starter Colt McCoy. Gilbert threw only two passes on the drives, one of which he completed for a four-yard loss.
But Texas cannot get one-dimensional or the game is going to be over quickly.
Texas 6, Alabama 0 (first quarter)
It was the onside kick that wasn't. But it was just as effective.
Texas pooched its kickoff into no-man's land, and Curtis Brown recovered the bouncing ball at the Alabama 30-yard line.
The Longhorns couldn't pick up a first down, though, with backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert still on the field subbing for the injured Colt McCoy. Hunter Lawrence's second field goal, this one from 42 yards, gave Texas a 6-0 lead with 8:04 left in the first quarter.
Texas 3, Alabama 0 (first quarter)
Alabama came out gambling after getting stuffed on its first drive, faking a punt on fourth down at its own 20-yard line. But punter P.J. Fitzgerald, who had completed the only pass he had thrown before today, had this pass intercepted by Texas' Blake Gideon at the Crimson Tide's 37-yard line.
The Longhorns then failed to punch the ball in on several attempts from the one after quarterback Colt McCoy was hit by Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus's helmet on his right shoulder blade. McCoy was replaced by backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who on third down threw the ball out of the end zone under pressure.
Texas had to settle for Hunter Lawrence's 18-yard field goal.
All that talk about preparing and taking care of business from Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban didn't amount to much on Alabama's first drive. The Tide were penalized for a false start on their second play and then quarterback Greg McElroy was sacked for an eight-yard loss before things really went awry.
We're less than an hour from kickoff at the Bowl Championship Series national title game and the Rose Bowl is awash in an eye-blurring mix of burnt orange and crimson. It looks like about a 50-50 split in terms of fan support.
There was a Bevo sighting earlier but I don't see the massive steer along the Texas sideline anymore. I must say the new turf brought in this week after the Rose Bowl is among the most pristine I have ever seen. The field is about as close to perfect as you can get.
Who's going to win? I'm picking Texas, 21-17, having seen the Longhorns defy predictions four years ago and beat a favored USC team on this same stage.
Is Colt McCoy the new Vince Young? Can Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram help carry Alabama to its first national title in 17 years? We're about to find out.
Photo: Crimson Tide defensive end Marcell Dareus shakes off the tackle attempt of quarterback Garrett Gilbert to score on an interception return in the second quarter Thursday night. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times