At the end of the 2009 season, Nick Saban’s Alabama squad had rolled through an undefeated schedule, forging through close wins against rivals Tennessee, Auburn, and LSU before avenging their 2008 defeat in the SEC Championship by dismantling the Florida Tim Tebows.
With all of that accomplished, Alabama had one more hurdle to cement themselves as finally being “back.” The Texas Longhorns stood in the way of a National Championship, led by senior QB Colt McCoy. McCoy led the nation in completion percentage and had been viewed as one of the top QBs in the nation for four years. Texas hadn’t lost a game since early in 2008, and were fresh off defeating Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl the year before.
By all accounts, Alabama was facing the best team in the nation with arguably the best QB, and many expected the Texas offense to be able to outscore a plodding Alabama offense.
The game started disastrously on special teams for the Tide, as Nick Saban attempted an ill-advised fake punt that was intercepted on the first drive, and then Texas recovered a surprise onside kick after scoring a field goal to get up 6-0. It was mostly a defensive slugfest after that, with the Tide defense knocking McCoy out of the game. Eventually, Alabama scored once to get up 7-6, and the teams then went back to trading punts.
Late in the 2nd quarter, though, this finally happened:
With Richardson blasting through the line and scoring a 50-yard touchdown, it finally removed the slow grind from the Tide offense, and seemed to break the game open. Alabama went on to score 10 more unanswered points, including this end-of-half jewel that’s gone into the hall of fame of defensive player highlights:
Alabama coasted from there, and easily won their first National Championship since 1992, kicking off an unprecedented string dominance over the college football landscape ever since.