Tide’s ride rests heavily on McElroy

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Greg McElroy was supposed to be the potential chink in Alabama’s armor, the factor who could foil Nick Saban’s quest to bring a national championship to Tuscaloosa in his third season.

A three-game stretch in October, when the Crimson Tide offense sputtered and McElroy failed to toss a touchdown pass, furthered the notion that an inexperienced quarterback would snuff the dream. A scary 12-10 victory over Tennessee, preserved only by a pair of blocked field goals by Terrence Cody, had ‘Bama Nation in full panic.

A funny thing happened amid the handwringing: McElroy, the caretaker of the offense, didn’t flinch. After delivering a clutch effort in a tight Iron Bowl win over Auburn, the junior stepped up and played the hero in the penultimate game of what could become a season to remember. In doing so he vanquished Tim Tebow, Urban Meyer and Florida, winners of two of the past three BCS titles.