Cyrus Kouandjio. Chance Warmack. Barrett Jones. Anthony Steen. D.J. Fluker.
Offensive linemen often go down as unsung heroes, but the 2012 Alabama offensive line was downright famous. Considered one of the greatest lines in college football history, they were instrumental in bringing home the third national title of the Saban era. You couldn’t make it halfway through a broadcast that season without hearing about the yards before contact afforded Alabama RBs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon.
The Tide won the SEC West that year despite a loss to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, in which offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier infamously decided to throw the ball three times inside the ten yard line with under a minute to play rather than lean on the best run blocking line in the nation. They rolled into Atlanta to face a fellow one-loss #3 Georgia team, with the winner advancing to the BCS Championship Game against Notre Dame.
That SEC Championship Game was a classic. Georgia went toe to toe with the Tide and even took a 21-10 lead in the third quarter when LB Alec Ogletree returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown. Mark Richt ran down the sideline cheering Ogletree as he took the ball in, and the celebration almost seemed as if Georgia thought they had the game in hand. On the next drive, the usually quiet Fluker got fired up. We don’t know exactly what was said but he lit into his linemates, challenging them to take over the game.
They did just that.
Alabama rushed 11 consecutive times over the next two drives, both ending in touchdowns. QB AJ McCarron connected with a clutch TD to Amari Cooper, and when C.J. Mosley batted away an Aaron Murray pass that was ticketed for the pylon as time expired, the Tide advanced. Lacy and Yeldon combined for a whopping 334 yards on 45 carries, carrying the team to a title. Nussmeier had seemingly learned his lesson.
A Notre Dame team that supposedly had the best run defense in the nation that season had absolutely no hope against this group. Lacy trucked and spun his way to 140 yards on 20 carries, with Yeldon adding another 108. Late in the contest, McCarron scolded Jones for not snapping the ball when he wanted it, drawing a decisive shove that was the most contact the QB had felt all night. The Tide dispatched the Irish by a 42-10 score, thus completing the difficult task of defending a national championship.
Fluker and Warmack would be drafted in the first round, Kouandjio in the second. Jones lasted until round 4 but left Alabama as the most decorated OL in school history with Outland, Rimington, and Jacobs Blocking trophies. Steen went undrafted but managed 13 starts in the NFL before injuries derailed his career.
Relive the Georgia and Notre Dame games below.
We are only 9 days from kickoff.