Wednesday, December 31

Simming the Sugar Bowl

Continuing our NCAA09 tour through the BCS, we've got Chris taking Alabama and Russell playing as Utah. All-American difficulty, 7-minute Quarters, Even Teams.

Utah takes the opening kickoff to the 40. First play is an option, Brian Johnson keeps it for a 12 yard gain. Eddie Wide takes over as a surprising starter at RB, and the option attack begins. Stalling out as the Utes approach the red zone, they hit a 44 yard FG.

Following two runs for 8 yards, JPW fires incomplete on 3rd. Terry Grant gives Bama just enough to convert the 4th, and the Tahhhde roll on. Bama rotates to Glen Coffee, who continues to pound the ball. Eventually they punt, old school.

Mack comes back in at RB and converts a key third down option. The Ute offense keeps cranking out first down on the ground, again stalling out nearing the red zone. Field goal and it's 6-0.

Alabama needs all of two plays to bust a 57 yard TD run by Terry Grant and it's 7-6.

A tired defense takes the field and it looks like trouble as the Utes gain 8 yards on their first play from scrimmage. End of the first quarter. Johnson picks up the first down then takes over the drive, scrambling for consecutive big plays. The drive ends with a 18 yard TD run by Darrell Mack.

Alabama takes the ball and this time they come out throwing. A quick first down pass to Grant, followed by a nice run by Grant. But it's for naught, drive ends in a punt.

Utah's offense finally stalls out from the get-go, ending with an incompletion to a tightly covered receiver.

This time around, Terry Grant comes out with a head full of steam, making defenders miss and picking up more big plays. Nikita Stover makes a key catch on 3rd down to keep the drive alive at midfield. Grant picks up a ten yard run on second down, but it's called back for offensive holding! "Fuck it, I'm going deep" John Parker thinks, clearly pissed off about the call. It's complete for 35 yards to Mike McCoy. Two plays later, Stover hauls it in in the end zone and the Tide have retaken the lead 14-13.

Utah takes over at their 34 with just 28 seconds remaining and two timeouts. (it's not "times out" assholes, timeout is one fucking word) Johnson's first pass is drilled deep into a cornerback's backside on first down. Second down, the play action isn't fooling anybody, but Charlie Higgenbothem drops a sure interception. It will haunt the Tide, as Johnson completes a 46 yard bomb to Jereme Brooks. With time running out, the Utes take a field goal and a 16-14 lead at the half.

Alabama comes out in the third quarter with their newly installed "Spread Fail" package, copyright Tony Franklin. JP runs an option for a one-yard loss then throws a horrible incompletion on 3rd. But it's Stover hauling in the 4th down completion to the Utah 40! But Wilson returns to form throwing a deep pick.

Following a first down and a penalty, however, Brian Johnson returns the favor. Rolando McClain returns an interception just past midfield. With some momentum on his team's side, JPW fires a bullet to McCoy before the Tide are back to pounding away with Grant. The defense holds, and after a FG we're sitting at 17-16.

For shits and giggles, Brian Johnson throws a 70 yard out that's incomplete only because the safety went to Mohammad Massaquoi's school of catching. Utah turns back to the option game. Facing a third and ten, Bama's defense has the quarterback contained against the sideline. But Johnson lofts a pass to his tight end, twenty yard gain and a first down! Mack runs the ball to the 8 yard line on the following play, first and goal! We finish the third quarter with a 2 yard loss on a QB keeper, second and goal.

This is a key drive as we're now in the fourth quarter. Mack gets nailed at the line before Johnson completes a pass to the one yard line on third down. Utah lines up in a goalline power formation on 4th and goal! But it's a bluff, they call timeout with 1 second left on the playclock then kick a FG. 19-17, Utes.

Bama now needs to score. JPW starts the drive off on the right note with a 19 yard pass that's miraculously caught by Nick Walker (not Welkah). Grant softens up the defense with a five yard gain, then it's a slant to Stover. The Tide offense is showing balance, but after a 2 yard loss and an incompletion, Bama faces 3rd and 12. With a truly Innovative playcall, the offense runs a HB power and Grant takes it to the house! 25 yard TD run and they follow it up with a successful 2-point try, 25-19.

Utah gets a nice kickoff return to the 42 yard line, and they need a touchdown with 4:35 remaining. Matt Asiata gets things started with a 5 yard iso, but the gain is negated by a delay of game penalty as Johnson attempts to audible each receiver's route. After Johnson gains three yards, Utah faces a 3rd and 7. Johnson again audibles at the line, and completes a fade to his wide receiver. Shedding the tackle, the gain goes to the Alabama 15! Darrell Mack takes it to the 2, where the battle is on! First and goal: 1 yard gain by Mack. Second and goal: Johnson's nailed at the line. Third and goal: Johnson takes it in, and the Utes have an improbable 4th quarter lead by just a point!

Alabama takes the field with 1:37 remaining, trailing 26-25. Thinking they can fool the defense, Terry Grant takes the handoff but is held to a 3 yard gain. But Wilson forces the following pass into triple coverage, incomplete. On 3rd and 7, Wilson scrambles to his left and throws a deep bomb to McCoy, complete! Bama's nearing field goal range, and the playcalling goes conservative. Grant gains six yards on two carries, but is held to a 2 yard loss on 3rd down. The Tide line up for a field goal with 23 seconds, and it's wide right!

Not satisfied to merely win, Utah looks to humiliate the SEC runner up. They complete a 11 yard pass for a first down just to let Saban know that they fucking could, then kneel down on the ensuing play. Utah wins 26-25 in a back and forth game! Folks, the real Sugar Bowl will be nowhere near this competitive.