Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, it’s time for college football to get down to business, including the Bowl Championship Series title game which will be played at the Rose Bowl between Alabama and Texas on Jan. 7.
The battle to decide the Southeastern Conference king boiled down to top-ranked Florida and the No. 2 Crimson Tide, and it became a case of Alabama wearing down the Gators, 32-13, last Saturday, behind the splendid running of Mark Ingram and the best defense in the land playing to its potential.
Texas had to sweat out a 13-12 win over Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship tilt, as Hunter Lawrence nailed a 46-yard field goal with no time left on the clock.
Sharp and steady, and the probable Heisman Trophy winner, Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy passed for 184 yards, and had a two-yard scoring run that gave Texas a 7-6 lead at the half.
Lawrence canned a 39-yard field goal late in the third quarter to make it 10-6, but Nebraska countered with two fourth-quarter field goals for a 12-10 lead.
At times, Ingram was unstoppable, churning out 113 yards on 28 carries, with scoring runs of seven, three and one yard.
Ingram’s first touchdown with 5:33 left in the first quarter gave the Tide (13-0) a 9-0 lead, and his second tally late in the second quarter pushed Alabama’s margin to 19-10.
Ingram’s last score early in the fourth quarter made it a 19-point bulge, and he also caught two passes for 76 yards.
Perhaps even more impressive was the Tide’s swarming defense that limited the Gators to 88 yards on the ground, and 13 first downs. By comparison, Alabama had 251 yards and 26 first downs.
Florida (12-1) controlled the ball slightly more than 20 minutes, to just less than 40 minutes for Alabama.
A Heisman winner, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was held to 247 yards passing with one interception, while hitting 20 of 35 throws, including a 23-yard scoring strike to David Nelson in the second quarter. A sound runner, Tebow had 63 yards on 10 carries.
Overlooked by some, Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy was outstanding, throwing for 239 yards, finding the target on 12 of 18 passes, with no interceptions.
McElroy found tight end Colin Peek with a 17-yard toss and just less than 10 minutes left in the third quarter to make it 26-13.
Some have scoffed at the Pacific 10 Conference, but not after landing six, and perhaps seven in bowls.
Oregon will meet Ohio State in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, and USC (8-4), which finished its regular season with a 21-17 loss to Arizona in the waning moments at the Coliseum, will play Boston College in the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco on Dec. 26.
UCLA (6-6) dropped its regular-season finale to the Trojans, 28-7, and may play Temple in the Eagle Bank Bowl in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 29. If the Bruins don’t get the nod, Army will, providing it beats Navy.
Stanford meets Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31, and Arizona will face Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30.
California plays Utah on Dec. 23 in the Poinsettia Bowl, while Oregon State meets BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 22.
Let the fun begin.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a contributor to trufanboxing.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.