The Tide claimed its 13th national title - first in the BCS era - after beating the Texas Longhorns, 37-21, inside the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
The game's most important play occurred early in the first quarter, when Texas QB Colt McCoy suffered a serious shoulder injury after being stopped on a quarterback sneak. He would not return to the game, forcing the Longhorns to hand the reigns of their offense over to freshman Garrett Gilbert. Gilbert struggled throughout the first half, allowing the Tide to build a 24-6 halftime lead.
However, Gilbert found his rhythm late in the third quarter and into the final period, pulling Texas to within three points at 24-21 with less than four minutes remaining. But the Alabama defense, which had saved the Tide's title run at several points throughout the season, stood tall late in the fourth quarter, forcing and recovering a Gilbert fumble inside Texas' five-yard line. Mark Ingram's one-yard touchdown run with 2:01 remaining sealed the victory.
Despite the final score, neither offense was very consistent; each team finished with just over 250 total yards. Alabama QB Greg McElroy struggled statistically, finishing with just six completions on 11 attempts for 58 yards. Tide running back Mark Ingram did manage to evade the so-called "Heisman jinx," carrying 22 times for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Backup Trent Richardson also had a solid outing, finishing with 19 carries for 109 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Alabama survived two terrible special teams mistakes in the first quarter - an ill-advised fake punt pass that was intercepted in Alabama territory and a botched recovery attempt following a short Texas kickoff - by holding the Longhorns' offense to just two successive field goals. Despite the shaky first period, Alabama took a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter after a 2-yard touchdown run from Ingram. Richardson added a 49-yard run on the Tide's next offensive drive to push the lead to 14-6.
Following a Tiffin field goal with less than a minute remaining in the first half, Texas attempted an inside shovel pass on their subsequent drive. Gilbert's attempt was picked off by Marcell Dareus and returned for a touchdown to give the Tide a seemingly insurmountable 24-6 lead at the break.
Alabama opened the second half conservatively on offense, opting to work the clock and rely on defensive pressure. But Gilbert's 44-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Shipley late in the third quarter changed the dynamic of the game and energized the Longhorns' offense. The freshman signal-caller found Shipley again with just over six minutes remaining - this time from 28 yards out - to pull the Horns' within three points.
But Texas final three drives all ended with turnovers, allowing Alabama to put the game away in the final two minutes with 13 quick points.
Gilbert finished 15 of 40 for 186 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.
Alabama's Saban - who has frequently termed his coaching approach as "the process" - is now the third coach in the history of college football (the first in the modern era) to win a national championship at two different schools. The victory also marks the first for Alabama over Texas in series history. The Tide becomes just the third team in the history of college football to finish a season 14-0.