Alabama may have had flashbacks of the 1993 Sugar Bowl in the first quarter of the BCS Championship game.
Unfortunately for the Tide, they were playing the role of Miami.
Early misfortunes on the offensive side of the ball left Alabama with an unconvertable third down. Then P.J. Fitzgerald, Alabama's punter, trotted on to the field for the game's first punt, or so it was thought.
However, Fitzgerald raised up on the snap and fired a pass along the left sideline. Texas defensive back Blake Gideon picked the pass off and the Longhorns set up for an early drive deep in Alabama territory.
Then, disaster struck.
Just three minutes into the game, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy was tackled on an option run and injured his right shoulder.
McCoy was replaced by freshman Garrett Gilbert. Gilbert was able to get the Longhorns inside the one yard line due to a quick outside rushing attack. But a penalty negated a touchdown and the Crimson Tide held firm, forcing the game's first points to come via field goal.
On the ensuing kickoff, another Alabama mistake gave Texas great field position again. However, the Tide's defense played very aggressively against the run, and the Longhorns were forced to attempt another field goal. That left the 'Horns up just six points.
Alabama's next possession ended once again in a punt, but the defense held firm against the weak passing attack from Gilbert and the Longhorns.
Finally, after being very quiet during most of the first quarter, Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram burst onto the scene.
Ingram punched out runs of eight and nine yards. Roy Upchurch spelled Ingram and got the Tide a second first down on the drive. Greg McElroy then hit Julio Jones for 23 yards. Ingram finished the drive with three consecutive rushes, including a one-yard touchdown behind Terrance Cody.
Texas, still not able to muster anything much offensively, was able to get a few run plays outside the tackles and into the Alabama secondary. But just a few fifteen-yard plays will not win the national championship.
Both teams traded punts and Alabama then saw the speed and vision of Trent Richardson as he scampered 40 yards for Alabama's second touchdown. The extra point put the Tide up 14-6 in the second quarter.
Gilbert was then intercepted by Javier Arenas inside Alabama territory, halting a promising Longhorn's drive. However, Alabama was not able to convert the turnover into points and the two teams traded punts once again.
Leigh Tiffin knocked through a field goal after Arenas helped the Tide offense with a big punt return. Alabama was content with a 17-6 halftime lead.
But Mack Brown pulled out all the stops for his team with under 30 seconds to play.
With just three seconds left, Gilbert tossed a shovel pass into the hands of his running back, but the ball was bobbled, and Marcell Dareus intercepted the ball and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown.
Dareus was also the defender whose hit knocked McCoy out of the game.
With the experience lacked by Gilbert, Texas has a mountain to climb, down 24-6 at halftime.
The second half of the BCS Championship game remains. Will the Tide continue the romp, or will the Longhorns rally around their backup quarterback and put the game in reach?
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