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Matchup: No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Alabama
The Crimson Tide will find a way to defeat No. 3 Georgia in their conference title game, and set up an opportunity to repeat as national champions. But this isn't one of the overrated Fighting Irish teams of recent years.
After a high-scoring affair in the Fiesta Bowl, college football fans will have to hunker down for some seriously physical, defensive football in the main event of the 2012 season.
Despite losing so much talent to the NFL, the Alabama defense has remained one of the nation's best. The Irish are led by All-American LB Manti Te'o—who himself will be playing on Sundays soon enough—and their defense has keyed the team's turnaround to a stunning undefeated campaign and No. 1 ranking.
Eddie Lacy and freshman phenom T.J. Yeldon headline the Tide backfield, while Notre Dame has its own three-headed monster of Theo Riddick, Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III.
What will likely determine the outcome of this one will be quarterback play. AJ McCarron is one of the most efficient, intelligent signal callers in the country, and already has a championship to his credit.
But in Bama's only loss, they struggled to contain dynamic QB Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, who beat the Tide with his arm and his feet.
Although he is not the player Manziel is, Everett Golson brings that similar type of ability to the table for the Irish.
In a game where Notre Dame will likely be severe underdogs despite being the higher-ranked team, Golson will have to limit mistakes and make magic happen on broken plays to push the Irish over the top.