Late Safety Sinks Buckeyes and Lifts No. 1 Alabama in Great Playoff Game

Jon SarverCorrespondent IJanuary 1, 2010

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Head Coach Jim Tressel of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts after players dumped gatorade on him in the final moments of the buckeyes 26-17 win over the Oregon Ducks in the 96th Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2010 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Late Safety Sinks Buckeyes and Lifts No. 1 Alabama in Great Playoff Game

Alabama 23 Vs. Ohio State 21

Warning:  Ohio State fans you have a right to question this score.  We were simulating this game during the Rose Bowl.  You had a great game which turns out to mean nothing.  Just ask USC the last three years.  Would you trade your Rose Bowl berth for a chance to play a really important game?  Who knows, you play it on the field and maybe you do win this game.  It's time to raise our voices and demand a playoff now!

Now to our game...

The second round of the GridIron Gauntlet 16 Team Playoff moved into high gear at the first meaningful Sugar Bowl non BCS title game with Alabama making it two in a row in this first ever playoff.  The win put the Crimson Tide just two victories  away from the first legitimate NCAA Division I Championship ever!

Ohio State behind a very complete game from Terrelle Pryor  13-20 (245) (If you watched the Rose Bowl these stats are an understatement) and six rushes for 65 yards moved up and down the field with ease in the first three quarters. It was the first time in a long time that Pryor had success in the air!  However, nine penalties for 85 yards held the Buckeyes in check along with a very stingy and aggressive Crimson Tide defense.  In the end, Ohio State was able to score just 21 points despite a huge edge in total yards 398-275.

Indeed, the night would eventually belong to Alabama with Greg McElroy and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram leading a balanced, if not spectacular attack;  but not just yet.  The Buckeye defense also stopped the Crimson Tide on several key third down plays batting down passes and stuffing  a Mark Ingram sweep from the 16 with 10 minutes left that would have put the score at a reasonable 14 -7 Alabama lead.  But it didn't happen and behind a Terrelle Pryor five yard touchdown run and a DeVier Posey 22 yard touchdown catch after  Alabama fumble, Ohio State raced to a  21-7 lead.

As the game moved into the fourth quarter Greg McElroy went to work and after a pass of 20 yards to Julio Jones had the Tide on the Buckeye they were knocking at the door on the 10 yard line. Seconds later Mark Ingram  rumbled through a tired Buckeye defense and the score was narrowed to 21-14 with just over seven minutes left in the contest.

Ohio State Started their next drive on their own 23 and behind Brandon Saine and Daniel Herron they bruised down the field until the drive stalled when Aaron Pettrey  missed a 36 yard field goal with 4:25 seconds left in the game Alabama was alive.

It didn't take long for Alabama to strike!  A McElroy to Ingram 22 yard touchdown pass with 1:47 seconds knotted the score up at 21-21 with the most improbable bowl ending ever just around the corner.  The ensuing kickoff landed in the hands of Lamaar Thomas and he surprisingly took it five yards deep in the end zone and slipped as he tried to cut at the two yard line and was stopped right there.

The Sugar Bowl crowd was wild as took the next snap and was stopped with a on one yard loss with 53 seconds left with the clock running as Alabama was out of time outs at that point. 

It was now third and eleven and all of the Sugar Bowl crowd was certain we were seeing overtime.  However, as Pryor positioned himself to take the snap, he was bumped by Brandon Saine, who was in motion, and fumbled the snap into the end zone where he fell on it for a very unlikely game winning safety.  Alabama had survived, and just barely (Could Ohio State beat the Tide in a playoff? YES! Stop the bloggers and play the game), for a 23-21 victory and a place in the semi-finals at Miami in two weeks.