SI's Joe Posnanski will provide ongoing commentary and analysis throughout tonight's Texas-Alabama championship showdown. For updated stats and play-by-play, follow SI's Gameflash here.
0:26, 4th quarter: A scoreboard beautifying touchdown by Alabama makes the score Alabama 37, Texas 21. The score does not reflect the game. But I'm not sure what score WOULD reflect this game. Once Colt McCoy went down, it was Alabama's game to lose and everyone knew. Alabama sleepwalked for a while, allowing Texas back in briefly. But then, they caused one more mistake and then another. And then another. And Alabama is your national champion. SCORE: Alabama 37, Texas 21.
2:01, 4th: Texas cannot stop him. Ingram plows in -- touchdown Alabama. Well, the fourth quarter was definitely more exciting than it might have been ... but Alabama makes the big plays when it matters. SCORE: Alabama 31, Texas 21.
2:06, 4th: Well, Texas raging one last time at the dying of the light. They stuff Ingram on first and second down, so it's third-and-goal at the one. A goal line stand could still give Texas a chance. But can they stop the Heisman Trophy winner?
3:02, 4th: Apparently ... too confident. He stood in the pocket and Eryk Anders came flying in, blindsided him, forced the fumble. Alabama recovers at the three. And, just like that...
3:08, 4th: A holding penalty moves the ball to the Texas 17. Gilbert looks oddly confident.
3:21, 4th. Wow, Alabama has to punt from the 37 yard line -- no more ridiculous field goal attempts. And the ball is caught at the seven. Can Texas drive the length of the field against Alabama with a backup quarterback in the final three minutes of the National Championship Game? Tell you what: If these 'Horns can do it, they will have books written about them.
6:15, 4th: Oh, the Rose Bowl is wild now -- as loud as I've heard it all night. How the heck did this happen? Part of it is that Alabama's offense has done absolutely nothing in the second half -- Texas' defense has dominated. And Gilbert has, as the old announcers liked to say, "grown up before our very eyes." Amazing. This game was over, and suddenly it's anything but over.
7:24, 4th: Say it with me: Garrett Gilbert. This nightmare game has suddenly showed signs of becoming a miracle. Gilbert hits Shipley for a 28-yard touchdown pass and then hits the two-point conversion. And, holy cow, it's now Alabama 24, Texas 21. If Gilbert can pull this off, he will have statues of him built in pretty much every town in Texas. SCORE: Alabama 24, Texas 21.
8:59, 4th: Texas haltingly coughs its way into Alabama territory and now to the Alabama 37. It ain't pretty, but at least the 'Horns are moving a little bit. This seems like a good place to mention that it probably would have helped if Texas had ANY running game to at least threaten the Alabama defense. Texas' inability to run the ball did not haunt it much during the season, but with a backup quarterback in the game it has really stood out.
11:13, 4th: Alabama, for reasons I'm not entirely certain about, just tried a 52-yard field goal. Kick missed. In college the ball does not get marked at the spot of the kick. Texas now has the ball at the 35 yard line. When you're playing defense this well, and your opponent has an inexperienced backup quarterback in the game, I'm not sure why you would give him good field position.
13:40, 4th. Official attendance tonight: 94,906. Number of cities in Alabama with larger populations than that? Four. Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Huntsville. Tuscaloosa, you will note, is not one of those four.
0:44, 3rd: Well, it was only a brief spasm ... Gilbert with three more incompletions and Texas has to punt. But Texas does pin Alabama back on the six yard line, so that's something. ... I'm still stuck on the way the first half ended. I wonder if Mack Brown will sleep for the next six months.
1:28, 3rd: And keep those superlatives coming ... Texas recovers an onside-kick. Is Texas really coming back from the dead?
1:31, 3rd: "Oh doctor!" Or "Hold the phone!" Or one of those great expressions. Gilbert just connected on a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Shipley -- perfect pass, nice run after the catch, and there's energy and hope back in the Rose Bowl. If not for that preposterous end of the first half, it would be 17-13 and a game! Even now, it might not be over. SCORE: Alabama 24, Texas 13.
2:06, 3rd: Gilbert hit Goodwin on another receiver screen for a first down pass. I don't get it. Gilbert is five-for-24. Two of those five were receivers screens. Shouldn't Texas run receiver screens on every single play the rest of the game?
3:51, 3rd: Remember how Lindsey Nelson, during those Notre Dame highlight shows, used to say: After an exchange of punts we move on to later action. Never in memory has a game more desperately needed Lindsey Nelson.
5:19, 3rd: Trending topics in Twitter at this moment -- Texas; Colt McCoy; Alabama; Roll Tide; BCS; SEC and Longhorns. Also Jersey Shore. So there you go. That's what America is thinking about.
7:54, 3rd: Here's a little stat for you -- coming into this game, all 10 of the teams leading the BCS Championship Game at halftime have won the game. This will make 11. And, if you think about it, there has not been an especially good game since USC-Texas. You have to wonder if this game has some of the issues the Super Bowl used to have -- where pressure, emotion and the sense of importance tend to weigh on teams and lead to mistakes and blowouts.
8:16, 3rd: Texas punts again ... Gilbert now 4-for-20 for 48 yards and two interceptions. Think for a moment about his day. He's part of a team playing for the national championship. He has throw 26 passes all year and hasn't thrown once since before Christmas. He's backing up one of the nation's best quarterbacks and he's in Pasadena and he gets treated like a king (as all these guys do at a bowl game). And then suddenly, out of nowhere, he's living a nightmare.
10:04, 3rd: Numerous people on Twitter and email wondering if Boise State can come in to finish this game.
12:05, 3rd: There is a guy on the field wearing some sort of ridiculous gold outfit. For a little while, nobody even seems to go after him -- a certain laziness has filled the stadium. Everybody is really disappointed that it has turned out this way -- with McCoy injured (they have finally made the announcement that he will not return) and Texas utterly overmatched. Finally, they get the guy in the gold outfit and the stadium suddenly lights up with camera flashes as everyone seeks to get that killer shot of the guy getting pulled away to justice.
13:10, 3rd: I couldn't have been more wrong! Texas with its first big offensive play, a little receiver screen to Marquise Goodwin for 39 yards. A spark of life. And that absurd final seconds interception appears more and more painful.
13:28, 3rd: Check that, Texas got one first down after McCoy got hurt -- on that sweet end-around. And Texas got a first down on its first possession here in the second half. But now, a leg-whip penalty has the 'Horns facing second-and-25 from their own 24. Which doesn't seem promising. A punt here on second down might not be a bad option.
14:54, 3rd: So ... now what? I'm sure Mack Brown gave Texas the intense "You have to go out there and show your pride" speech. And I'm sure it was stirring. But it doesn't change the facts ... Texas managed just four first downs in the first half, none after McCoy got hurt.
Halftime: From Twitterman EddieHigh -- Who would've thought that in the BCS National Championship game, Gilbert would fire a bullet to Arenas?
Halftime: Honestly, everyone is still abuzz about Alabama's interception that turned this game from a blowout to a destruction. What in the world could Texas have been thinking by calling that timeout? In the long run, it won't matter because with McCoy out Texas has no chance. But ... WHAT COULD THEY HAVE BEEN THINKING?
0:03, 2nd: Um ... I have absolutely no idea what just happened. You can now move Saban's fake punt to the SECOND dumbest coaching decision of the game. Texas inexplicably called timeout with 15 seconds left rather than letting the half mercifully end. Next play, Marcell Dareus intercepted a shovel pass (shuffle pass? shuttle pass?) and returned it for a touchdown. Holy cow was that bad. SCORE: Alabama 24, Texas 6.
0:29, 2nd: Twitter MLommler wonders if Texas might go to some sort of Wildcat offense in the second half to take pressure off Gilbert. If the Horns have practiced it, I would definitely say they should go for something like that. Their offense has absolutely no chance of moving the ball 20 yards, much less marching down field, with the offense they're using now.
0:33, 2nd: Nope. This time, Saban goes conservative. A field goal. SCORE: Alabama 17, Texas 6.
1:24, 2nd: Rumors swirling around the press box that McCoy has a broken collar bone, which, if true, would probably make the halftime re-evaluation period pretty short. Alabama has marched down to the Alabama nine, and it's fourth-and-one. You've got to think that since Nick Saban faked a punt on his first possession, that he will go for the kill here.
2:20, 2nd: You know, it's funny -- people always seem surprised that Mark Ingram was the first Alabama player to win the Heisman. And Alabama is such a great program that, in a way, it does seem surprising. But then when you ask someone to name those great Alabama players who might have won the Heisman ... they will almost certainly bring up Joe Namath, who played almost 50 years ago. And do you know how many passing yards he had his senior year. 756. His whole senior year.
2:30, 2nd: Garrett Gilbert was one of the most highly recruited quarterbacks in the country, and there's no doubt he has talent. But he misses an open receiver on third down, and Texas has to punt again -- this time Alabama returns it to the Texas 29. This 14-6 game is likely to get worse.
4:13, 2nd: Alabama moves the ball into Texas territory again but is forced to punt ... and P.J. Fitzgerald drops the punt inside the 10 and it is downed at the Texas two. Oh boy.
7:55, 2nd: A short kick does give Texas decent field position -- and an end-around to B.J. Monroe (a great call) gets Texas all way to the Alabama 32. Texas jumps into the hurry up offense, and Gilbert throws into the end zone and almost connects with Marcus Williams. That could have changed the complexion of the game. It didn't -- his next pass was intercepted by Alabama's Javier Arenas.
7:59, 2nd: And an injury report just called up -- Colt McCoy's injured shoulder will be "re-evaluated" at halftime. I'm not at all sure what that means but that's the report. I can only imagine McCoy is heartbroken and hopes he can come back into the game.
7:59, 2nd: Apparently unswayed by the Heisman jinx Ingram has had to deal with, Alabama freshman running back Trent Richardson just burst up the middle and ran 49 yards for a touchdown. Well, the Longhorns needs to find something ... and I'm not sure where they will look. SCORE: Alabama 14, Texas 6.
8:56, 2nd: It's hard to watch -- Gilbert simply does not stand a chance against Alabama's defense. He throws two incompletions -- one or both could have been intercepted -- and Texas has to punt again. Overmatched. I remember a friend of mine was a Division I football offensive lineman and he ended up trying to block Steve Emtman, who ended up being the first pick in the NFL draft. He set himself properly, dropped his weight, moved his feet -- and Emtman picked him up and threw him out of the way like he was an empty can of Diet Coke. ... Yeah, this is a bit like watching that.
9:39, 2nd: How do bands decide what songs they are going to play at football games? One of the bands -- Alabama? -- seemed to be playing the Theme from the A Team. I'm not opposed, exactly, just wondering how that song got chosen.
9:46, 2nd: And Texas does force Alabama to punt. Gilbert is returning to the game.
11:59, 2nd: So much of football is emotion. I think that's a big part of why there seems to be "momentum" in games. Teams will be slogging along, then suddenly someone makes a play and everything seems to change on both sides of the field. The whole Texas team -- offense, defense, special teams, everyone -- seemed to sag once they realized McCoy probably would not return. They have to get over that and make some plays on defense and special teams, because this game could get away from them.
12:37, 2nd: Tim Tebow couldn't do anything against this Alabama defense, what chance does Garrett Gilbert have? Answer: None. He gets hit hard as he throws -- oh oh, another injury? -- and Texas punts again. Alabama with the ball at its own 42.
13:44, 2nd: What a terrible spot for Texas' backup quarterback, Garrett Gilbert. Not only has he been thrown into the game because of an injury to starter Colt McCoy, but he has to somehow convince his teammates that he can lead them to victory against a great Alabama defense with 100,000 people watching.
14:18, 2nd: On first-and-goal from the two, Mark Ingram breezes into the end zone behind Big Terrence Cody, who blew up the entire Texas line. This game has taken a dramatic turn. SCORE: Alabama 7, Texas 6.
End of first quarter: Wow, Ingram is good. A nine-yard run takes Alabama to the Texas three. It's funny, Texas leads 6-0, but in many ways I would imagine that for Texas fans this game already feels lost. People always talk about what wins and loses football games: Turnovers, defense, time of possession, whatever. But injuries -- especially key injuries -- trump everything.
1:51, 1st: A couple of terrific runs by Ingram move Alabama to the Texas 40. I don't see why Alabama would do anything right now but pound away with Ingram. With McCoy out, the whole theme of this game has changed. Alabama can grind out this game. ... Though McElroy just completed a pass to take Alabama down to the Texas 12.
4:29, 1st: When asked (repeatedly) who I thought would win this week, I kept saying Texas. And the reason was I just thought Colt McCoy would have a big game. With McCoy out (I guess they are X-Raying his shoulder), I see absolutely no way that Texas can move the ball against Alabama. ... And right on cue, Texas goes three-and-out.
5:00, 1st: Texas defense holds, and Alabama faces a fourth down from Texas territory. Isn't THIS the situation to try a fake punt? No -- punt goes into the end zone. Texas has repeatedly hit Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy.
7:12, 1st: And we have our first big run by Mark Ingram -- 18 yards and a first down to the Texas 45. A lot of pressure on Ingram ... over and over this week he had to listen to the all the nonsense about the Heisman Jinx. There's only so much a running back can do. If Alabama blocks well, he'll get his yards.
7:59, 1st.: Alabama finally gets the ball back, though the most compelling picture of the game so far might be that of Colt McCoy, pads off, waiting for X-Rays. Just a sad moment for a great college football player.
8:09, 1st: Alabama's defense holds again, leaving Texas' Hunter Lawrence to drill the 42-yard field goal. It's Texas 6, Alabama 0. And, yet, considering all that has gone right for Texas and all that has gone wrong for Alabama, I'm not entirely sure who feels luckier right now -- Texas for grabbing the lead or Alabama for somehow still being within a touchdown. SCORE: Texas 6, Alabama 0.
9:10, 1st: And just when you think you are about to exhale -- Texas kicks off short, a sort of pooch kick, and Alabama looks utterly baffled. Texas' Curtis Brown recovers and now has the ball at the Alabama 30 yard line. Holy cow is this going Texas' way -- except, of course, for the inconvenience of the Longhorns being without their Heisman candidate quarterback.
9:11, 1st: So what do we have in the first six minutes? An injured quarterback, a bizarre fake punt, a defensive stand and a question about whether Alabama will be able to do anything against that Texas defense.
9:14, 1st: Alabama holds -- as backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert throws the ball away on third down. Field goal makes it Texas 3, Alabama 0. And everyone in the crowd exhales. SCORE: Texas 3, Alabama 0.
9:24, 1st: Colt McCoy apparently injured his shoulder -- waiting for a report on that. In the meantime, Texas has first-and-goal inside the three, and Alabama stuffs the Longhorns on first and second down. Once again, an opportunity for a huge momentum swing. Lots of big moments early in this one.
10:54, 1st: Timeout on the field ... and I'm still wondering what Saban could have been thinking running a fake punt on fourth-and-23 from deep in his own end. That has to be one of the strangest calls I can ever remember. I suppose he was trying to make a big play early -- grab this game -- but even a complete pass there (and the ball WAS underthrown) doesn't change the fact that Alabama still would have had a LONG field to go against Texas' stout defense.
12:09, 1st: Third down and one to go, a potentially big moment early on. And Texas' Cody Johnson plows ahead for the first down. Next play,Tre' Newton takes it down to the Alabama 11. Huge momentum swing for Texas.
13:01, 1st: Keith Jackson flipped the coin to start the game, and in his honor we bring out the Whoa Nelly as Alabama tries a fake punt -- which turns into an interception. Texas at the Alabama 32 now -- no make it the 28. What the heck was going on in Nick Saban's mind?
13:05, 1st: Smoke is lingering over the field -- left over from the fireworks show. Doesn't seem to be having any effect on the game -- or Texas' defense. Alabama goes three and out -- a no-gain rush, a penalty, a sack and an incomplete pass -- and now we'll see if Texas can fare any better against the Alabama defense. Way too early to make judgments, but Alabama looked overmatched on first possession.
14:55, 1st: Alabama gets the ball at the 33, and right away we should get a feel for how well the Crimson Tide will be able to run against the nation's best rush defense.
Pregame: Players taking the field here in Pasadena, always one of those great moments in college football. And no less so with Flea and Josh Groban doing the National Anthem. Yeah, Josh Groban and Flea.
(And as expected, Groban and Flea provided a stirring rendition.)
Pregame: As kickoff approaches, the feeling seems to be that this will be low scoring. Alabama won't be able to run on Texas. And Texas will not be able to run on Alabama. The amazing thing about big games like this -- and maybe it's because of the one-month layoff -- is how rarely they turn out the way we expect.
Pregame: Yes, it can get annoying to hear announcers and sports writers drool about the atmosphere at the Rose Bowl. But, hey, 100,000 people in an old-fashioned stadium with mountains in the distance ... it's impossible to be in here without feeling, at least a little bit, like you have been transported back to the 1960s, with Woody Hayes and John McKay about to lead their teams on the field.
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