Alabama running back Mark Ingram plays in Rose Bowl as father watches from prison

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Alabama’s explosive sophomore running back Mark Ingram stands 5-10, weighs 212 and sports a pair of broad shoulders.

When the top-ranked Crimson Tide faces No. 2 Texas in tonight’s BCS national championship game, those shoulders will have to carry much more than the bulky defenders from the Longhorns’ top-rated rushing defense.

Alabama (13-0) claims 12 national titles but is in a 17-year drought and, as its first Heisman Trophy winner, Ingram will take the hopes of a football-crazy fan base with him on every carry.

The Tide is 0-7-1 all-time against Texas (13-0), and a strong performance is essential to breaking that grip. And Ingram will be trying to ward off the Heisman jinx: seven winners have played in the last eight BCS title games and only one (Southern Cal’s Matt Leinart) has been a winner.

But more than that is on Ingram. His father, a wide receiver for the Super Bowl XXV-winning Giants, will be watching from behind bars. He is in a federal jail in Queens awaiting sentencing on bank fraud, money laundering and failure to surrender on charges. The sentence reportedly will be meted out tomorrow.