After already posting some of the most impressive defensive numbers throughout the season and in the earlier rounds of December Madness, it was no shock that the defenses of TCU and Alabama took center stage. The teams ranked in the top two in the nation in total defense in terms of yards per game and weren’t far behind in terms of yards per play and it was the Crimson Tide which stole the show, giving up just over 250 yards of total offense to a Horned Frogs team looking to spring the upset.
They even had the lead and the early momentum. Running back Joseph Turner carried the ball 16 times for 93 yards and more than half of it came on the very first play of TCU’s second offensive possession. Turner broke through Alabama’s defense for a 48-yard touchdown as the Horned Frogs’ showed off their big-play prowess once again.
But it was the only time they’d find the end zone all day, and the Tide answered later in the quarter with a big play of their own. Ingram was able to break free from the Horned Frogs with time ticking down in the first quarter, scampering 36 yards to even the game at 7-7. Then he gave his team its first lead midway through the second quarter, finding the end zone again - this time from eight yards out - to make it 14-7. And Alabama tacked on a field goal before halftime to take a double-digit lead.
TCU kicker Ross Evans, the team’s hero from the semifinal round, tried to follow the same path in the semis, connecting for field goals twice in the second half, but the Horned Frogs needed a touchdown and Alabama’s defense wasn’t about to relent again as the Crimson Tide batted away a pair of passes on consecutive plays with just over a minute left to preserve the victory.
Alabama moves on to the national championship game, where it will face one of two other remaining unbeatens. The Tide will either get Texas in a battle of this year’s BCS Championship Game or upstart Boise State, trying to prove nay-sayers wrong in the playoff format.
Player of the game: Mark Ingram (24 carries, 130 yards, 2 TDs; 3 catches, 20 yards)
Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Alabama 66.5% - TCU 33.5%