TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- A season full of unexpected moments came to a predictable end for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Saturday.
The Mocs, a week removed from clinching their first winning season since 2005, were no match for second-ranked Alabama, which cruised to a 45-0 win in front of 92,012 at Bryant-Denny Stadium -- the largest crowd ever to see a UTC game.
Regardless of the opponent, there were way more dropped passes, missed assignments and missed tackles than Mocs coach Russ Huesman would ever find acceptable. Yet after the game the first-year coach talked mostly about the success of the season -- going from 1-11 in 2008 to 6-5 this fall -- rather than the disappointment of the finale.
"I'm just proud of this group," Huesman said. "We're 6-5 -- nobody would ever have expected it. Not one person would have thought six wins this year, and these guys, it's a credit to them. They did it, they got it done and we're sending these older guys out with a winning season."
Alabama's Heisman Trophy candidate, running back Mark Ingram, scored on runs of 25 and 40 yards and finished with 11 carries for 102 yards. The Crimson Tide (11-0) finished with 422 yards of offense and got a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown by Javier Arenas.
The Mocs managed just 84 yards of offense and five first downs.
"It's disappointing, absolutely," UTC quarterback B.J. Coleman said of the offensive output.
In the Tennessee transfer's first start against a Southeastern Conference opponent, he had little time to throw, few open receivers and virtually no chance to throw the ball downfield.
Coleman finished 7-of-25 passing for 36 yards, with two interceptions. He came into the game averaging 231.2 yards per game and completing 58.5 percent of his passes.
Despite offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield's plan to get the ball out quickly, Alabama's defense was in Coleman's face on virtually every throw.
"Their front four has been able to get pressure all year, and when you start adding elements like (linebacker Rolando) McClain and corner blitzes and safeties dropping, they are among the best in the country doing that," Coleman said.
The Mocs' best chance to score came in the second quarter when they drove to the Alabama 22-yard line. On fourth-and-6, Huesman opted to go for it rather than letting kicker Craig Camay try a field goal. Coleman threw into traffic on fourth down and Arenas intercepted the pass.
"I didn't feel like bragging about kicking a field goal and having three points on the board," Huesman said. "You kick field goals to put yourself in position to win games; you don't kick field goals just because you're at Alabama trying to get three points on the board."
Wideout Blue Cooper entered the game needing eight receptions to tie UTC's single-season record of 90, but he caught just two balls, for 7 yards, and dropped several others. Drops were a problem for all the receivers, due in part to the fact that nearly all of them were playing with shoulder injuries.
The glimmer of hope with which all FCS teams take the field when they play guarantee games was kept alive early when Alabama went three-and-out on the game's opening possession. The Mocs' offense then converted a third-and-4 -- Coleman hit Chris Pitchford for 10 yards -- to earn a first down.
An offensive pass-interference penalty killed the drive, and Alabama scored its first touchdown on the ensuing possession.