PASADENA, Calif. --- The sure thing was looking shaky for Alabama.
Hanging onto a precarious three-point lead and with momentum on the other side, linebacker Eryk Anders made sure the championship wouldn't slip away.
Anders forced a fumble on his blindside sack of Texas backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert with 3:02 left Thursday night to help the top-ranked Crimson Tide hold on for a 37-21 victory in the BCS title game -- a win that figured to be much easier when Alabama knocked out Colt McCoy early in the first quarter.
With McCoy on the sideline nursing a shoulder injury, the Tide rolled to a 24-6 lead at halftime.
The second half figured to be a laugher with Gilbert -- a freshman who had thrown only 26 college passes -- in the game.
But Gilbert threw two touchdown passes to Jordan Shipley to trim the deficit to 24-21 with 6:15 left, and after an Alabama punt, he had the ball at the 7-yard line, 93 yards away from one of the most improbable comeback stories in the history of the game.
But after an Alabama holding penalty moved the ball to the 17, Gilbert got rocked by Anders and Courtney Upshaw recovered a fumble. Three plays later, Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram surged into the end zone from the 1 for the 10-point lead. A few minutes later, after Gilbert's third interception of the night, Trent Richardson scored his second touchdown to make it 37-21.
Glory came back to one of the country's most storied programs, the football factory that Bear Bryant built.
1998 Tennessee (SEC)
1999 Florida State (ACC)
2000 Oklahoma (Big 12)
2001 Miami (Big East)*
2002 Ohio State (Big Ten)
2003 Louisiana State (SEC)
2004 Southern Cal (Pac-10)
2005 Texas (Big 12)
2006 Florida (SEC)
2007 Louisiana State (SEC)
2008 Florida (SEC)
2009 Alabama (SEC)
*Was member of the Big East before joining the ACC in 2004[CAPTION]
BY THE NUMBERS
845 Wins 813
25 Bowl wins 32
4 National Titles 8
2 Heisman winners 1