ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - The team picked to repeat as national
champions gave a glimpse of everything it could've been and more.
Too bad for Alabama it came too late.
Mark Ingram ran for two scores to break the school record for
career touchdowns, and 15th-ranked Crimson Tide rolled past No. 7
Michigan State 49-7 on Saturday in the most lopsided Capital One
Bowl in the game's history.
"We just showed what we're capable of doing when we play our
best football," Ingram said. "It just shows how fragile a season
The pieces came together better than they had all season in this
The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner had 59 yards rushing on 12
carries and a 30-yard reception against the team he rooted for as a
kid, Greg McElroy threw for 220 yards and one touchdown and the
game got so out of hand that the Crimson Tide (10-3) pulled most of
their starters early in the third quarter. Ingram also moved past
Shaun Alexander's mark (41) with 42 career touchdowns.
The margin of victory topped East Texas State's 33-0 victory
over Tennessee Tech in the 1953 game, then known as the Tangerine
Bowl. The bowl dates back to 1947.
"We were outcoached, we were outplayed and we were
outphysicaled and that's just the way it is," said Michigan State
coach Mark Dantonio, who worked under Alabama coach Nick Saban when
he was at the helm for the Spartans. "Sometimes, you get an
avalanche come on you and that's just what happened."
The Crimson Tide found the end zone on their first five
possessions, held the Spartans (11-2) to 171 total yards and sacked
Kirk Cousins four times in their most dominant performance all
Cousins had 120 yards passing, one interception and was under
pressure all game. Edwin Baker was held to 14 yards rushing for a
Spartans team that felt snubbed by the BCS after sharing the Big
Ten title. Instead, they were bullied and bruised by a team that
knows the big stage well.
Asked what hit gave him a headache and sent him to the sidelines
for good in the fourth, Cousins replied: "It was an accumulation
of hits I took during the game."
A season that began with the No. 1 ranking and dreams of second
straight title for Alabama never lived up to those standard. Losses
to rivals Auburn, LSU and South Carolina prevented the Tide from
even making the Southeastern Conference title game.
The team everybody expected to see showed up in the finale.
Alabama pushed and pounded the Spartans at the line of scrimmage
in what was utter domination in every phase. Perhaps nobody was
more physical than Ingram, who rooted for Michigan State - where
his father, Mark, was a star receiver - while growing up in Flint,
There were six missed tackles alone when Ingram bowled over
Michigan State defenders on his lone catch in the second quarter. A
play later, his 6-yard touchdown run put Alabama ahead 21-0.
The Tide flexed its muscle again on the next possession when
Julio Junes took a reverse, cut left up the sideline and received a
big block from McElroy to go 35 yards for another score. Marquis
Maze had a 35-yard TD catch and Eddie Lacy scored two touchdowns
late to give Alabama a 49-0 lead.
The Spartans only mounted one serious threat while the game was
They drove down to the Alabama 7 when they were down 14-0. But
Alabama's Courtney Upshaw jarred the ball loose from Cousins and a
wild scramble for the ball ended on the 38-yard line. Michigan
State had to punt - on fourth-and-goal. Bennie Fowler had a 49-yard
TD catch with 5:45 remaining for Michigan State's only score.
This wasn't the way the Spartans wanted to close out what had
been an otherwise incredible season. Michigan State dropped to 0-4
in bowl games under Dantonio, who had to take time off this season
after having a heart attack.
"It's a reality check," Dantonio said. "We have to play above
our abilities. We have to overachieve."
Alabama's performance provided flashbacks of the team that went
undefeated last season and beat Texas in the BCS title game. The
Tide lost some key defensive players to graduation and the NFL
draft and had several injuries - including one to Ingram - that
hampered hopes of another championship.
Ingram and Jones are juniors, who could jump to the NFL, and
McElroy is a senior who played his last game.
The 2010 might go down as a disappointment for some Alabama
fans, but much of this Tide team could be back next season and
another preseason No. 1 ranking is a definite possibility.
"There were just four of five plays in this season relative to
what this team could've accomplished," Saban said. "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."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)