Atlanta The move was so unlike Nick Saban. The Alabama coach put away all that boardroom talk for a leaping shoulder bump with star running back Mark Ingram.
The Crimson Tide was back on top.
Across the way, Tim Tebow couldn’t do a thing, tears streaming down his cheeks as he watched the clock wind down on an ending that wasn’t in his farewell plan.
With Ingram and Greg McElroy leading an emphatic 32-13 chomping of top-ranked Florida on Saturday, No. 2 Alabama again stands supreme in the Southeastern Conference. More important, the Tide is just one win away from an even bigger title — its first national crown since 1992.
“Everyone had to buy into not to be denied in this game,” Saban said, getting back to business after a raucous celebration at the Georgia Dome. “To be a champion, that’s what you had to do. I’ve never been prouder of a group of players.”
The no-nonsense coach, who talks of “The Process” instead of the houndstooth, needed only three years to bring Alabama back from a grim era to a place it was accustomed to under Paul “Bear” Bryant.
“They seemed like they wanted it a whole lot,” Florida cornerback Joe Haden said.
Ingram, making a strong bid to claim the school’s first Heisman Trophy, rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns. McElroy threw for 239 yards and a touchdown to claim the MVP award, showing he’s no weak link. The Alabama defense held Tebow in check and left him crying at the end.
“It’s tough. You know it’s not how you want to go out,” Tebow said. “They were just better than us today.”
Alabama (13-0) moves on to Pasadena for the BCS championship game.
Tebow and the Gators (12-1) likely will settle for the Sugar Bowl, denied a shot at their second straight national title and third in four years.
“Our standard was to be as good as Florida,” Alabama linebacker Cory Reamer said. “Today, we were better than them.”
The Tide led all the way, establishing its will on the very first drive.