We have made to the number one game on the countdown of the best Alabama-Tennessee games of the new millennium. It is the single greatest victory in the history of the rivalry for Alabama. And it could have been one of the worst.
#1 – October 24, 2009: No. 2 Alabama 12 – Tennessee 10
Alabama was cruising to a 12-3 victory in the fourth quarter. The game was well in hand. But the Vols were pesky, hung around, and waited for us to make a mistake.
And we did.
Mark Ingram fumbled for the first time of his career deep in Crimson Tide territory. The Vols were able to bring the score to 12-10 with a 11-yard touchdown pass from Jonathan Crompton to Gerald Jones. Denarius Moore then recovered the ensuing onside kick. All of a sudden, our perfect season was in peril.
When I think back to this game, it reminds me of other teams in the past who have been in our position. I think back to the Southern Cal teams of the mid-2000’s, and the Oklahoma and Ohio State teams before them. There was always a game or two during the season, which put their championship seasons in jeopardy— usually against inferior teams.
And every time, they would find a way to win; some stroke of luck that would completely change momentum and eventually put their team in a position to win. I always used to wonder how those teams always got so “lucky”. The top teams in the country, over and over, would continuously get the lucky play they needed, and stay undefeated.
This is why as soon as Terrence Cody blocked Daniel Lincoln’s 44-yard field goal to secure the win, I knew we would win the national championship.
It was the defining moment of the 2009 season. It was the type of play we had failed to make in the past. It was a play that seemed “lucky.” But it wasn’t. The amazing play looked like the product of a championship team.
I realized that Alabama was finally starting to get the breaks that the best teams in the country always seemed to get. And luck had nothing to do with it.
It was a turning point for the Alabama program. It vaulted us from potential contenders to an unquestioned juggernaut. It was a beautiful win; easily the best memory of the entire season, and it was one of the best regular season win in the history of Alabama football.
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