Notre Dame Football: What Irish Fans Need to Watch for in 2012 SEC Championship

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Notre Dame Football: What Irish Fans Need to Watch for in 2012 SEC Championship
Harry How/Getty Images

The Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs fight for the 2012 SEC Championship in a game where the winner faces the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the national championship.

Because of that, Notre Dame fans need to be watching this game with the utmost scrutiny of both sides. Fans of the Irish should get an idea of how their team will match up with their eventual opponent by watching some key things during the game.

 

When Georgia has the ball

Notre Dame fans need to check out the Georgia running back combination dubbed "Gurshall." Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have been gaining yards behind a great run blocking offensive line. They have combined for 283 carries for 1858 yards (6.57 per carry) and 22 touchdowns. 

They also need to focus on the pass blocking for Aaron Murray in particular. The strengths of Notre Dame's defense is it's pass rush and run defense. Georgia has allowed just 22 sacks so far this season while Notre Dame's defense has earned 33 sacks. 

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Gurley will be a key.

Alabama's defense has 30.0 sacks this year, so the amount of pass rush is going to be very similar to what Georgia will see against Notre Dame. How the UGA line attacks hold up against the high level 3-4 defense of Alabama will give a great idea of how it will fare against the Notre Dame defense.

It will be interesting to see how the multifaceted attack that 'bama uses against quarterbacks compares to the Notre Dame attack that is based mainly around linebacker Prince Shembo and defensive ends Stephon Tuitt and Kapron Lewis-Moore.

Aaron Murray is also one to watch. His only two big games this year—against South Carolina and Florida—were also his worst. In each game, he threw for a 50 percent completion percentage for 150 or less yards.

Over the two games, he also had a total of four interceptions to just one touchdown. While Murray's stats look good for the season, his inability to step up in big games is the reason why he isn't even being looked at as a Heisman candidate.

 

When Alabama has the ball

Leon Halip/Getty Images

Quarterback A.J. McCarron is the one to watch when Alabama is on offense. Despite having lower yards and touchdowns than Aaron Murray, he also has thrown just two interceptions on the season—both in a close loss to Texas A&M. 

Running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon are great running backs as well. They've combined for 1848 yards on 287 carries and 24 touchdowns this season. They are anchored by a great line that includes multiple first round prospects like guard Chance Warmack, tackle D.J. Fluker and utility man Barrett Jones.

That line also has proven to be very effective protecting against the pass rushers in the SEC, allowing just 20 sacks all season. They will have their hands full today with Georgia linebackers Jarvis Jones and Jordan Jenkins.

Georgia's real strength is in the secondary. They allow just a 56.4 completion percentage and just 10 touchdowns all season. They also have 10 interceptions and have allowed a yards per attempt of just 6.91.

The Georgia defense will have it's hands full today versus Alabama, but if they can hold the Crimson Tide to under 15 points, they could win.

 

All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus's Premium StatsESPN.com, CFBStats.com or NFL.com. 

Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.

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