Alabama, as a slight underdog, made a big-time statement.
Texas, a heavy favorite, remained unbeaten by the slimmest of margins.
But the "how" part didn't really matter, unless you're into style points. Each win carried the same weight. Which means those two teams will be playing each other on Jan. 7 in Pasadena, Calif., for the BCS national title.
The folks at Texas Christian or Cincinnati and even Boise State, each also unbeaten, probably don't agree. That doesn't matter, either. The BCS standings are forever binding.
The polls and the computers have rendered a verdict. Until there's a playoff or another system in place, it remains what it's been for over a decade now. Unless only two teams finish blemishless someone's going to have an argument. Just ask Auburn (2004), to cite but one of numerous examples.
Anyway . . .
Alabama (13-0) beat Florida (12-1) in the Southeastern Conference final on Saturday afternoon, 32-13. Then Texas (13-0) kept things interesting before beating Nebraska (9-4) that night in the Big 12 finale on a field goal at the buzzer, 13-12.
It's the first time since 1973 that Alabama heads into the bowl season ranked No. 1. That year, the Crimson Tide lost to Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, 24-23. They haven't won it all since 1992. Four years ago, Texas won its first title since 1970 (shared), by knocking off Southern Cal in maybe THE all-time Instant Classic.
That was also the last time two unbeatens made it to the last game. Each of the last 3 years, the champ has had at least one loss.
'Bama and Texas haven't met since the 1982 Cotton Bowl. Texas leads the series, 7-0-1. Three of those were in bowls.
SEC teams have won the last three titles, and four of six. Alabama coach Nick Saban won it all with LSU in 2003.
Texas fell behind, 12-10, on a field goal with just under 2 minutes left. But the kickoff went out of bounds, which gave the Longhorns the ball at their 40. With the help of a 15-yard penalty for a horse-collar tackle, they moved to the Nebraska 26. Two plays and two sacks later, they snapped the ball with 8 seconds to go.
Colt McCoy, who most likely lost the Heisman Trophy by throwing three interceptions, rolled right and threw the ball over the head of his receiver. It landed out of bounds as the clock kept ticking.
The scoreboard showed all zeroes. But upon further review from the booth, it was determined there should still be a second remaining. So Hunter Lawrence kicked one just inside the left upright from 46 yards out.
Only in America.
Texas, of course, had a timeout left and for whatever reason chose not to use it. Very strange. If it had lost under those circumstances, the Longhorns would have had some serious explaining to do.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini wouldn't comment. Hard to blame him. By the way, if Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh isn't the top pick in the next NFL draft, something's wrong.
But we digress.
Texas, in case you forgot, thought it should have been in last season's BCS final instead of Oklahoma, a team it had handled on a neutral field. Alabama lost to Florida in the SEC finale, after leading at the end of three quarters. So each team had only one goal in mind. Now they'll get their shot.
In the process, 'Bama's sophomore running back, Mark Ingram, might have won himself a Heisman, something no player from that school has ever done. He scored three touchdowns and accounted for 189 yards. And Florida's Tim Tebow, who won it in 2007, lost for the first time in 23 games.
Tebow and Florida have to settle for a Sugar Bowl date with Cincinnati, which needed a botched extra-point hold to beat Pittsburgh and clinch the Big East title.
The Rose Bowl features the already set game between Oregon and Ohio State, while Iowa earned the second Big Ten berth over Penn State, in the Orange Bowl. The Hawkeyes will face Atlantic Coast Conference champion Georgia Tech.
And, what about the two outsiders, TCU and Boise State? Somehow they will wind up facing each other in the Fiesta Bowl. They played each other in last year's Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, with the Horned Frogs winning, 17-16.
And, finally, Bobby Bowden's career will come full circle when he coaches his last game at Florida State in the Gator Bowl on New Year's Day.
The Seminoles will play 18th-ranked West Virginia, the school Bowden left in 1976 to move to Florida State, which began its 28-year streak of bowl games in 1982 with a victory over the Mountaineers, 32-12, at the Gator Bowl.
Mike Kern's Top 15
4. Texas Christian
6. Boise State
8. Ohio State
9. Georgia Tech
11. Penn State
12. Louisiana State
13. Virginia Tech
15. West Virginia