The team picked to repeat as national champions gave a glimpse of everything it could've been and more.
Too bad for Alabama it came too late.
Mark Ingram ran for two scores to break the school record for career touchdowns, and 15th-ranked Crimson Tide rolled past No. 7 Michigan State 49-7 on Saturday in the most lopsided Capital One Bowl in the game's history.
"We just showed what we're capable of doing when we play our best football," Ingram said. "It just shows how fragile a season is."
The pieces came together better than they had all season in this one.
The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner had 59 yards rushing on 12 carries and a 30-yard reception against the team he rooted for as a kid, Greg McElroy threw for 220 yards and one touchdown and the game got so out of hand that the Crimson Tide (10-3) pulled most of their starters early in the third quarter. Ingram also moved past Shaun Alexander's mark (41) with 42 career touchdowns.
The margin of victory topped East Texas State's 33-0 victory over Tennessee Tech in the 1953 game, then known as the Tangerine Bowl. The bowl dates back to 1947.
"We were outcoached, we were outplayed and we were outphysicaled and that's just the way it is," said Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, who worked under Alabama coach Nick Saban when he was at the helm for the Spartans. "Sometimes, you get an avalanche come on you and that's just what happened."
The Crimson Tide found the end zone on their first five possessions, held the Spartans (11-2) to 171 total yards and sacked Kirk Cousins four times in their most dominant performance all season.
Cousins had 120 yards passing, one interception and was under pressure all game. Edwin Baker was held to 14 yards rushing for a Spartans team that felt snubbed by the BCS after sharing the Big Ten title. Instead, they were bullied and bruised by a team that knows the big stage well.
Asked what hit gave him a headache and sent him to the sidelines for good in the fourth, Cousins replied: "It was an accumulation of hits I took during the game."
A season that began with the No. 1 ranking and dreams of second straight title for Alabama never lived up to those standard. Losses to rivals Auburn, LSU and South Carolina prevented the Tide from even making the Southeastern Conference title game.
The team everybody expected to see showed up in the finale.
Alabama pushed and pounded the Spartans at the line of scrimmage in what was utter domination in every phase. Perhaps nobody was more physical than Ingram, who rooted for Michigan State — where his father, Mark, was a star receiver — while growing up in Flint, Mich.
There were six missed tackles alone when Ingram bowled over Michigan State defenders on his lone catch in the second quarter. A play later, his 6-yard touchdown run put Alabama ahead 21-0.
The Tide flexed its muscle again on the next possession when Julio Junes took a reverse, cut left up the sideline and received a big block from McElroy to go 35 yards for another score. Marquis Maze had a 35-yard TD catch and Eddie Lacy scored two touchdowns late to give Alabama a 49-0 lead.
The Spartans only mounted one serious threat while the game was close.
They drove down to the Alabama 7 when they were down 14-0. But Alabama's Courtney Upshaw jarred the ball loose from Cousins and a wild scramble for the ball ended on the 38-yard line. Michigan State had to punt — on fourth-and-goal. Bennie Fowler had a 49-yard TD catch with 5:45 remaining for Michigan State's only score.
This wasn't the way the Spartans wanted to close out what had been an otherwise incredible season. Michigan State dropped to 0-4 in bowl games under Dantonio, who had to take time off this season after having a heart attack.
"It's a reality check," Dantonio said. "We have to play above our abilities. We have to overachieve."
Alabama's performance provided flashbacks of the team that went undefeated last season and beat Texas in the BCS title game. The Tide lost some key defensive players to graduation and the NFL draft and had several injuries — including one to Ingram — that hampered hopes of another championship.
Ingram and Jones are juniors, who could jump to the NFL, and McElroy is a senior who played his last game.
The 2010 might go down as a disappointment for some Alabama fans, but much of this Tide team could be back next season and another preseason No. 1 ranking is a definite possibility.
"There were just four of five plays in this season relative to what this team could've accomplished," Saban said. "And I think the maturity will help this team in the future. I think the leadership that will come from the lessons learned this season will be beneficial to this team in the future."