If the Alabama Crimson Tide were looking to make a statement in their final game of the 2010 college football season, well, they certainly get an A+ in that category.
Alabama (10-3), the defending 2009 national champion and pre-season No.1, scored early and often en route to an easy 49-7 win over Michigan State Saturday afternoon in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando.
With the victory, ‘Bama captured another 10-win season under head coach and former MSU coach Nick Saban.
Looking to retire the memory of a heartbreaking 28-27 loss to arch-rival Auburn back in November that likely cost #15 Alabama a BCS bowl, the Tide took apart a good 7th-ranked MSU team from start to finish Saturday.
Alabama’s defense was within under six minutes of a rare bowl shutout before MSU (11-2) got on the board with 5:45 remaining in the game.
Junior linebacker Courtney Upshaw, who nabbed the game’s MVP, led the way for the Crimson Tide with a pair of sacks, five tackles, including three for a loss as well as forcing an MSU fumble.
Alabama, which was meeting MSU for the first time in school history, compiled 546 total yards (275 rushing, 271 passing) on the day, the second-best total offense by the Tide in a bowl game, just behind the 586-yard output against Syracuse in the 1953 Orange Bowl. The 49-7 victory ranks as the second-largest margin of victory by UA in a bowl game. The largest margin was in that same 61-6 win in the Orange Bowl win over Syracuse.
A total of five players scored UA’s seven touchdowns, including a pair of rushing touchdowns by junior running back and Michigan native Mark Ingram.
With his pair of TD’s, Ingram set a new school record for career rushing touchdowns with 42, breaking Shaun Alexander’s 1996-99 mark of 41. Six of the Tide’s seven touchdowns came on the ground, which is another UA bowl record.
Senior QB Greg McElroy passed for 220 yards in just more than one half of work, which was enough to set the school record for passing yards in a season with 2,987 yards, topping John Parker Wilson’s tally in 2007 of 2,846 yards. Alabama’s 28 points in the first half tied a Tide bowl record, matching the mark set in the 1983 Sun Bowl.
All eyes will now turn to the off-season and the NFL Draft.
Ingram and wide receiver Julio Jones are among a number of key Crimson Tide players who could leap to the next level, although a potential NFL lockout may bring them back to Tuscaloosa for one more season.
While this season didn’t and should not have been expected to live up to the 2009 14-0 run and the school’s 13th national championship, much of this Tide team could be back in 2011, with another preseason No. 1 ranking not out of the question.
”There were just four of five plays in this season relative to what this team could’ve accomplished,” Saban added. ”And I think the maturity will help this team in the future. I think the leadership that will come from the lessons learned this season will be beneficial to this team in the future.”
While there are decisions to be made in Tuscaloosa, the future certainly looks bright.
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Written by Dave Thomas