RTR: a win for the Roses

Published 9:37 pm Saturday, December 5, 2009

ATLANTA (AP) — Mark Ingram and Greg McElroy sliced up the fearsome Florida defense and Tim Tebow finally met his match, no matter how hard he tried to fire up his teammates.

With an emphatic 32-13 chomping of the Gators, the Crimson Tide again stands atop the Southeastern Conference. More important, Alabama is just one win away from an even bigger title — its first national championship since 1992, led by a coach who believes in “The Process” instead of the houndstooth.

Ingram, making a strong bid to claim the school’s first Heisman Trophy, rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns. McElroy was 12 of 18 for 239 yards and a touchdown to show he’s no weak link, and No. 2 Alabama rekindled memories of Paul “Bear” Bryant with the convincing victory Saturday.

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Alabama (13-0) moves on to Pasadena for the BCS championship game. Tebow and the Gators (12-1) will likely settle for the Sugar Bowl, denied a shot at their third national title in four years.

When it was over, there were a range of emotions.

Nick Saban, the no-nonsense, process-oriented coach who needed only three years to bring Alabama all the way back from a miserable era, looked totally out of character as he leaped up to bump shoulders with Ingram on the sideline.

Tebow found himself in an unusual position, too: sitting on the bench and appearing to wipe away tears as the clock ran out.

The Tide led all the way, establishing its will on the very first drive. In the second half, Alabama shut ’em down, making up for its loss in last year’s SEC title game.

“We didn’t come here for a moral victory,” Saban said. “Everyone had to buy into not to be denied in this game. To be a champion, that’s what you had to do. I’ve never been prouder of a group of players.”