Alabama regrouped after a shocking loss to Texas A&M to win its final three games of the season, including a Southeastern Conference title game thriller against Georgia.
Alabama dodged another bullet in the SEC Championship when Georgia ran out of time at the 5-yard line.
Here's the CliffsNotes version of how the No. 2 Crimson Tide made it to Miami to face No. 1 Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship on Jan. 7:
Sept. 1: Alabama 41, Michigan 14
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was excited to bring No. 2 Alabama and No. 8 Michigan together for the Cowboys Classic in Arlington to kick off the 2012 college football season. That lasted all of 15 minutes, with the Crimson Tide jumping out to a 21-0 lead heading into the second quarter. Alabama’s defense allowed just 69 rushing yards and intercepted Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson twice.
Sept. 8: Alabama 35, Western Kentucky 0
Nothing to see here, folks, except McCarron’s four touchdown passes and a 32-yard TD run by freshman Kenyon Drake. The Hilltoppers did go 7-1 for second place in the Sun Belt, but got snubbed when it came down to bowl invitations. Then they went out and hired disgraced former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino to lead them into 2013.
Sept. 15: Alabama 52, Arkansas 0
Speaking of the Razorbacks, they presented less of challenge at home against Alabama in both squads’ Southeastern Conference opener than a three-legged gazelle in the Serengeti. The top-ranked Tide outgained Arkansas 438-187 and junior Eddie Lacy rushed for three scores and 55 yards on 12 carries.
Sept. 22: Alabama 40, Florida Atlantic 7
Alabama scored on its first six possessions and kept Florida Atlantic (110 yards of total offense) off the scoreboard until the 2:49 mark in the fourth quarter. Lacy rushed for 106 yards on 15 carries and McCarron passed for 212 yards and three touchdowns on 15-of-25 passing to lead the Tide offense.
Sept. 29: Alabama 33, Ole Miss 14
Alabama freshman receiver Amari Cooper caught a game-high eight passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns and senior placekicker Jeremy Shelley kicked four field goals at home for the team’s second SEC victory of the year. A 99-yard kickoff return for a score in the second quarter by sophomore Christion Jones was part of a 21-point Tide outburst in the second frame.
Oct. 13: Alabama 42, Missouri 13
On the road in Columbia, Mo., Alabama greeted Tigers, new to the SEC, with a running game exhibition. The Tide received a career-high 176-yard effort from Lacy, who scored three touchdowns, and 144 yards and two scores by freshman T.J. Yeldon. Alabama led 27-0 in the second quarter before the game was delayed 40 minutes due to lightning. Junior linebacker T.J. Mosley brought the thunder with a game-high 12 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Oct. 20: Alabama 44, Tennessee 13
In Knoxville, head coach Nick Saban’s crew torched the Volunteers through the air, with McCarron throwing for a career-best 306 yards and four touchdowns. Cooper caught seven passes for 162 yards and two scores to help the Tide improve to 7-0 and 4-0 in the conference. It was Tennessee’s fourth consecutive SEC defeat. Yeldon added 129 rushing yards and a pair of TDs for Alabama, which rolled up 539 yards of total offense.
Oct. 27: Alabama 38, Mississippi State 7
Back home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama thumped the nation’s 11th-ranked team with scoring drives on each of its first three possessions. McCarron lengthened his stretch of passes without an interception to a school-record 262. The Tide defense hurried Mississippi State QB Tyler Russell 10 times and came away with one sack and three tackles for loss.
Nov. 3: Alabama 21, LSU 17
No. 1 Alabama nearly became a casualty in Death Valley, but Yeldon took a swing pass from McCarron 28 yards for a touchdown with 51 seconds left in the game to cap a 72-yard, five-play drive to rally against No. 5 LSU. The Tigers missed a 45-yard field goal and Alabama took over with 1:34 to play trailing 17-14. McCarron completed his first three passes to start the drive to chew up 44 yards in a hurry. Two plays later, Yeldon finished off the rally.
Nov. 10: Texas A&M 29, Alabama 24
After an emotional win over rival LSU, Alabama was slapped in the face by Aggies redshirt freshman quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, who led his team to a 20-0 lead after the first quarter on the road. The Tide countered with 17 unanswered points, but Texas A&M connected on a 29-yard field goal and scored on a 24-yard pass from Manziel to Malcome Kennedy midway through the fourth quarter to hand the Crimson Tide its first loss of the year.
Nov. 17: Alabama 49, Western Carolina 0
Nothing could have dried fourth-ranked Alabama's tears after the devastating loss the previous week like scrimmaging, er, playing a game against a Football Championship Subdivision squad that would eventually finish the year 1-10.
Nov. 24: Alabama 49, Auburn 0
Then again, Auburn, which won a national title in 2010, might have been a weaker opponent than Western Carolina. The Tigers went 0-8 in the SEC.
Dec. 1: Alabama 32, Georgia 28
After climbing back up to the No. 2 spot, Alabama had No. 3 Georgia (11-1) standing between it and a second consecutive trip to the BCS National Championship. The teams met in Atlanta for the SEC title game and the Tide edged the Bulldogs with help from Lacy’s 181 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Yeldon added 153 rushing yards for Alabama, which outgained pass-happy Georgia 512-394. McCarron led the Tide 55 yards on four plays to regain the lead with less than four minutes to play, completing the drive with a 45-yard passing strike to Cooper. Georgia went three and out on its next possession and didn’t get the ball back until 45 seconds left in the contest. The Bulldogs moved all the way down to the Alabama 5-yard line but time ran out.