Independence Bowl: Alabama Hangs On To Beat Colorado

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Independence Bowl: Alabama Hangs On To Beat Colorado
Alabama fans were celebrating early during Sunday’s Independence Bowl.

The Tide were putting an old-fashioned whooping on Colorado—and after Bama went up 27-0, it looked like the game would be a snooze-fest.

But all that jubilation soon turned to jitters.

John Parker Wilson was on fire for the first 25 minutes, going 13-18 for 185 yards and three touchdowns. The Bama ground attack was strong too, rolling for 99 yards.  

In an all too familiar sight for Tide fans, though, Wilson went all Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—again.

The inconsistent QB threw one of his trademark INTs to give Colorado great field position, leading to the Buffaloes' first score.  Wilson’s confidence was clearly shaken on Alabama’s next possession, as he almost threw another terrible pick while forcing the Tide to punt away again.

After another quick score by Colorado at the end of the half, the Buffaloes were back from the dead.

Despite being outgained 284-150, Colorado faced a manageable 27-14 deficit with 30 minutes to play. Not bad for a team that sleepwalked through the first two quarters.

A surprisingly calm Nick Saban was poised during his halftime interview, saying he knew the game would be a 60-minute battle.

Saban’s words proved prophetic.

In the second half, Colorado head man Dan Hawkins let his son Cody go pass-happy on the Tide defense—and the younger Hawkins delivered. Despite facing regular 3rd-and-longs and relentless pressure from Alabama's speedy defense, Hawkins dialed up big play after big play.

After an Alabama field goal made it 30-17, the cool-headed freshman QB led the Buffs into the end zone in less than a minute. With four minutes to play, Colorado was down just six—and Alabama’s offense was going virtually nowhere.

Uncle Mo was screaming Colorado’s name from the mountaintops. Buffalo fans were prepping their “Hawkins for Heisman” posters for 2008. The comeback was on.     

Then the unthinkable happened: John Parker Wilson made a second-half play.

On 3rd-and-7, Wilson rolled out, tucked the ball, and ran for a 10-yard gain—securing a first down and, ultimately, the game. 

Despite managing only 32 rushing yards and three points in the second half, Alabama did what it had to do.  In a game featuring two 6-6 teams, the outcome was huge in terms of building for the future.

Alabama’s win brings the SEC’s bowl record to 2-0.

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