MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — If history taught us anything, it's that Alabama's success in Monday night's BCS National Championship Game would hinge on its ability to run the football.
The Crimson Tide leaned heavily on players such as Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson during their title runs in 2010 and 2012. Alabama did the same this season with the help of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon.
It was Lacy's game-high 140 yards that helped propel Alabama to its second straight BCS national championship with a 42-14 win over Notre Dame Monday night. He also scored on a 20-yard touchdown run and an 11-yard touchdown reception in the win. All of which earned him the game's most valuable player honors.
Yeldon finished the night with 110 yards including a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Together the duo combined for 2,182 yards on the ground and 27 touchdowns during the regular season, powering Alabama's rushing attack to a top 20 ranking (224.6 ypg) and a No. 2 spot in the Southeastern Conference.
"We've had some good combinations," said Alabama coach Nick Saban this week. "Trent Richardson, Mark Ingram the most recent, and those two guys complemented each other very well."
"I think the two guys that we have right now are both big backs," Saban added. "They're both physical guys."
It's that physicality Saban believes helps a team during a long, arduous season. One that sees running backs take a huge beating as the carries and yards begin to add up.
"I think the reasoning for that is we like for guys to not get wore down during the season, so that they can have a shared responsibility and not have a guy run the ball 40 times for five games and then he's out for the year," Saban said when asked about his history of spreading carries among multiple power runners.
Both Yeldon and Lacy shared the rushing load pretty much equally this season, with the junior Lacy carrying the ball 184 times and the freshman Yeldon carrying the ball 154 times.
That wasn't the case so much in 2012 when Richardson did the yeoman's work on the rushing staff after Lacy went down with turf toe. His 283 carries accounted for 56 percent of the team's carries. The increased workload caught up with Richardson and he was limited in the title game, rushing for 96 yards on 20 carries during the team's 21-0 win over LSU at the Sugar Bowl.
In 2010, Ingram took the lead out of the backfield with 271 carries for 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy. Richardson had 145 carries for 751 yards as the Tide rolled to one of the top rushing attacks in the country.
It was that duo that combined for 205 yards and four touchdowns in Alabama's 37-21 win over Texas at the Rose Bowl.
The combination of Lacy's power and Yeldon's explosiveness has been the perfect one-two punch for Alabama. That was the case Monday night.
"I think for one of the first times this season we were able to come out and play a complete game," Lacy said following the victory.
Despite the bar being set high, Lacy didn't feel any extra pressure to outperform his predecessors.
"They left a high standard here so coming into this season I didn't want to shoot straight for their standard, I just decided that I would play the game that I know how to play and whatever the outcome may be let it be what it is," Lacy said.