06 December 2009
If there was a script for the 2009 Alabama football season, it would have been titled "Unfinished Business." After going 12-0 in 2008, Bama dropped its final two games of the season, and headed to Atlanta on this past Friday trying to avoid that same fate.
A 32-13 whipping of Florida gave Alabama its 22nd SEC Championship. Enjoy it. Celebrate it. But also understand that the business is still unfinished.
At Alabama we play for more than just state titles. At Alabama we play for more than just division titles. At Alabama we play for more than conference titles. At Alabama we play for the national title.
And on January 7th, Bama will play for its 13th National Championship.
Some things to ponder:
*** Bama needed a win to continue its streak of having won at least won SEC Championship in every decade of the conference's existence. Bama won the first SEC title in 1933, and has now won a title in eight straight decades.
*** The Florida defense came into the game allowing just over 233 yards per game. Bama gained more than 250 yards on first down plays in the game. The Tide so thoroughly dominated the Gators that they ended the day with 490 total yards.
*** Mark Ingram totalled 189 yards from scrimmage, with an SEC Championship Game record 3 rushing touchdowns. Tim Tebow was below average, committing the game's only turnover. Colt McCoy went brain dead at the end of the Texas game and almost cost the Longhorns a shot at playing Alabama. He also threw three interceptions.
Mark Ingram should win the Heisman Trophy. Period. Will he? I'll believe it when it happens. Lou Holtz voiced his opinion in McCoy's favor by pointing out that he is the winningest quarterback in NCAA history. Unfortunately I think too many Heisman voters are going to look at what McCoy did in 2008, when he should have won it, and they'll "correct that wrong." Add to the mix that Ingram will have another chance next year, and I think McCoy wins the award. I hope I'm wrong.
*** Florida will not be able to win championships if they can not establish a running game. With Tebow gone they'll have to go somewhere else, obviously. But do you realize that Florida only had four rushing attempts from someone other than Tim Tebow in Saturday night's game? Four.
*** The gameplan created by the Tide coaches, on both sides of the ball, is proof that Bama has the best coaching staff in the nation. Bama dominated both sides of the ball, and it did so by executing absolutely perfect gameplans.
*** Greg McElroy demonstrated his championship caliber leadership by having a brilliant game. He only made one bad throw in the entire game, and showed some moxy in converting two acrobatic runs for first downs. If he plays like that against Texas, Bama will bring home the crystal ball.
*** Florida killed Alabama on third down conversions in last year's game. This year saw Bama flip the script. The Tide went an astounding 11 of 15 against a team that came into the game allowing less than 25% conversion. Florida came into the game converting on 50% of their attempts. Bama held them to 4 of 11.
*** This was, for me, a more satisfying win than the 36-0 route of Auburn last year. Why? Because this game brought home a championship, and provided an opportunity for another. It's the most satisying victory since the last time Bama beat Florida in the Georgia Dome - in 1999. In reality, it's the most meaningful game since Bama walked out of the Super Dome on January 2, 1993 having de-pantsed the Miami Hurricanes.
*** The best news is that this team gets it. When several Tide players were getting the Power-Ade bucket ready to dump on Coach Saban, Rolando McClain stopped them, telling them, "We haven't won anything yet!"
That clarity of purpose won't end with Bama beating Florida. Think of the Boston Red Sox finally getting past the Yankees to win the 2004 World Series. They weren't satisfied with just beating the Yankees. Instead, they went on to sweep the Cardinals in four games. And it's that same focus that will carry Alabama through the next month of preparation. It's that same intensity that will see Alabama bring home #13 from Pasadena.
We'll certainly have more coverage of this dominating Bama victory in the coming days. We'll also have coverage of the practices leading up to the BCS National Championship Game. I'm heading to Pasadena on January 4, and I'm planning to come home a happy man.
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