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Alabama Crimson Tide's offensive line clears a path for Mark Ingram's big day

ATLANTA — As good as Mark Ingram was Saturday, the Alabama running back might not have quite moved to the top of the Heisman Trophy list. That hardly mattered, tough.

"I don't care about the Heisman right now," Ingram said among his celebrating teammates at the Georgia Dome. "All I care about is this."

With Ingram racking up yards because of a dominant line performance, Alabama claimed the SEC title with a 32-13 pounding of Florida and is heading to the BCS title game with a chance for its first national title since 1992.

"We knew we needed to play smash-mouth football and be physical with them," Ingram said. "That's what we did."

Ingram ran for 113 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries.

"We weren't worried about dominating the game," Alabama guard Mike Johnson said. "We were worried about getting 5 yards. We were worried about getting 10 yards. We were worried about converting third downs. It feels pretty good to put those amount of points on the No. 1 defense in the country."

Ingram also had the game's biggest play, a 69-yard gain on a screen pass from Greg McElroy that set up his second touchdown late in the second quarter.

"That was a big momentum-turner," Florida coach Urban Meyer said.

Alabama went into last season's game unbeaten and ranked No. 1 but couldn't hold a lead in the fourth. This time, the Crimson Tide jumped ahead early and didn't let the Gators back in the game while totaling 490 yards.

"We'd been waiting for this since last year," center William Vlachos said. "We knew we needed to be more physical than them up front, and we took it to them."

McElroy was 12-of-18 for 239 yards and a touchdown to tight end Colin Peek in the third.

"We had a great game plan and executed it perfectly," McElroy said. "Against a team like Florida, you have to put up some points."

"Greg played a phenomenal game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said.

Ingram has been phenomenal all season. He ended Saturday with 1,542 yards, surpassing Bobby Humphrey's school record of 1,471 set in 1986.

Bothered by a hip pointer in recent weeks, Ingram had a 7-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, a 3-yarder in the second and a 1-yard run in the fourth.

"Mark showed a lot of resolve," Saban said. "I'm really proud of the character he showed."

Information from Times wires contributed to this report.

Alabama Crimson Tide's offensive line clears a path for Mark Ingram's big day 12/05/09 [Last modified: Saturday, December 5, 2009 11:01pm]
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