From an opening Saturday night 34-24 win over Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome to its 37-21 victory over second-ranked Texas in the Bowl Championship Series' national title game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide team proved for 14 straight challenges that it was the best football team in America.
The magical season featured comeback wins over LSU and Auburn, a blocked kick win over Tennessee, an SEC Championship chomping of No. 1 Florida, and the championship showdown with old nemesis Texas in Pasadena.
Mark Ingram emerged as a Heisman hopeful when he ran through South Carolina and cinched the trophy with a stellar SEC game against the Gators, the 32-13 rout that elevated the Crimson Tide back to No. 1. Rolando McClain, the all-world linebacker, became the second Bama player to win the Butkus Trophy, given annually to the best in the country.
It was a season replete with Crimson memories, most noticeably these moments in time:
· Trent Richardson's demolition of the Arkansas defense on a scintillating 53-yard TD run.
· Mount Cody's last second block of a Tennessee field goal to preserve a 12-10 win.
· Greg McElroy's fourth quarter screen pass of 73 yards to Julio Jones to turn the tide crimson against LSU.
· McElroy's game-winning TD to Roy Upchurch in the waning minutes to beat upset-minded Auburn 26-21 on the Plains.
· Colin Peak's over-the-shoulder Sports Illustrated TD catch against Florida.
· Javier Arenas' INT in the end zone against Tim Tebow that elated the Crimson World and brought tears to those of the losers.
· Mark Ingram's bullish TDs against Florida and Texas.
· Marcell Dareus' TD-pirouetting run and Eryk Anders' game-changing sack vs. Texas at the Rose Bowl.
With a tradition abounding with championship teams and legendary players, perhaps no season or team accomplished as much as Nick Saban's 2009 National Championship squad.