Note: If you missed the preview, find it here
The teams charged out of the tunnel to the roar of over 100,000 fans. Ken Dorsey, Ed Reed, and Brett Romberg met representatives from the undefeated Crimson Tide squad at midfield for the coin toss.
Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram, and Mark Barron stared intently as the referee tossed the newly-minted SOTU BCS ceremonial coin. Alabama called "heads" and the coin landed true. Alabama elected to receive and returned the kick to the 22 amidst a deluge of flashbulbs from the massive crowd. William Joseph stopped Ingram for a 2-yd gain. After two incomplete passes by McElroy, Alabama was forced to punt and Miami's defense was fired up.
Miami got a good return by Phillip Buchanon out to their own 49. On the 'Canes first play from scrimmage, LB Eryk Anders came on a blitz and sacked Dorsey for an 8-yd loss. Willis McGahee got 2-yds back on the ground setting up a 3rd and 16. From the gun, Dorsey hit Johnson on a deep in to pick up 19-yds and a new set of downs. The 'Canes followed up with a screen to Portis which netted 14-yds. After a few run plays, Alabama tightened up on 3rd and 5 by stopping Portis for a 4-yd gain on a sweep. Todd Sievers was called on for a 25-yd chippie and he nailed it. DRIVE SUMMARY: 9 plays, 43 yards, 4:02. MIAMI 3 ALABAMA 0.
Alabama returned the kickoff to their own 32. After a short gain by Ingram, McElroy was sacked by Joseph who jarred the ball loose. After a mad scramble the ball squirted through the hands of Jonathan Vilma and squirted back toward McElroy who dove on it. On the next play, McElroy stared down Julio Jones and the pass was picked by Phillip Buchanon who returned it to the Alabama 27. Dorsey hit Sands for a gain of 10 and then found Kevin Beard who juked Mark Barron at the 5 and dove in for the score. The 'Canes were fired up. DRIVE SUMMARY: 4 plays, 27 yards, 1:13. MIAMI 10 ALABAMA 0.
After another 3 and out it was time for the vaunted Alabama defense to flex its significant muscles. Dorsey overthrew Jeremy Shockey on a crossing pattern and the ball was picked off by Mark Barron who returned it to the Alabama 47. McElroy was on target this possession, hitting Darius Hanks for 17 and Jones for 7 before the drive stalled. Coach Saban called on Leigh Tiffin to convert a long 45-yd try and the kick was true. DRIVE SUMMARY: 6 plays, 35 yards, 2:36. MIAMI 10 ALABAMA 3.
On the ensuing kickoff Johnson fielded the ball on the goal line. The Crimson Tide special teams were ready for him and blasted him at the 11. Miami's drive never got on track and Alabama took the resulting punt back to the Miami 38. The 'Canes defense stopped Alabama cold with deflected passes by Reed and Buchanon and an Ingram carry that went nowhere. Coach Saban decided to eschew the long FG attempt and punted. Dorsey was sacked by Cory Reamer on 2nd and long. The QB recovered on the next play and hit Johnson for a gain of 27 out to the Miami 39. The drive ended there as Alabama smothered Portis and swarmed Shockey and Beard on short pass attempts.
After a long punt and a short return Alabama started their next possession at their own 22. Ingram took the hand-off off tackle and bowled-over Jonathan Vilma sending him free into the secondary. Reed had an angle and knocked Ingram out of bounds after a gain of 41. The two competitors jawed at each other for a moment before one of the zebras urged them to knock it off. Then McElroy hit bruising TE Colin Peek for a gain of 12. With a 1st and 10 at the Miami 24, Alabama went to Trent Richardson. Vince Wilfork plugged up what looked like a big hole and squared-up Richardson, driving him back after a gain of 2. Julio Jones was bottled up on a WR screen for a gain of only 3. Then Ingram, who had already gashed the 'Canes defense a few plays earlier, was knocked out of bounds after a gain of 1-yd. It was Tiffin time for the Crimson Tide and their kicker delivered nailing the 35-yd kick. DRIVE SUMMARY: 6 plays, 60 yards, 2:59. MIAMI 10 ALABAMA 6.
Miami was aided by a Javier Arenas face-mask penalty that kept a doomed drive alive. Still, the Hurricanes couldn't seize on the opportunity and were forced to punt from midfield. The two teams traded 3 and outs and that left Alabama with the ball and 3:01 left in the half. McElroy found Richardson in the flat for 9. Ingram burst through a hole on the right side and picked up 10 and a 1st down. After another 5-yds on an Ingram carry, Alabama went to the play fake and McElroy executed it perfectly. James Lewis bit on the play-action and let Maze get deep. Not even a valiant effort by Reed could slow Maze down as he went in for a 44-yd score. DRIVE SUMMARY: 6 plays, 82 yards, 1:27. ALABAMA 13 MIAMI 10.
Miami again sputtered on their next possession as Marcel Dareus batted down a 3rd down pass to Shockey who was running free over the middle. Alabama took over at their own 16 after the punt. With only :35 seconds on the clock McElroy hit Ingram on a short pass play and the back scampered out of bounds. The next play was a draw to Ingram which seemed to catch Miami off guard. Ingram raced up the middle and made defenders miss. Another TD-saving tackle by Reed prevented Ingram from taking it to the house. Miami's defense didn't break and held Alabama to a 32-yd FG as the half ended. DRIVE SUMMARY: 4 plays, 74 yards, :32. ALABAMA 16 MIAMI 10.
As the teams headed to their respective locker rooms Miami was obviously discouraged as Alabama owned the majority of the 2nd quarter. Coach Saban continued to fire-up his team as they left the field. The Hurricanes looked somewhat dejected but Reed leaned into them as they vanished into the tunnel.
Tune in soon for the halftime show and the conclusion of this physical SOTU-BCS match-up!