BCS Championship 2012: Notre Dame Can Silence the Critics with Win over Alabama

Barry LeonardAnalyst IIIDecember 1, 2012

Nov 24, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Theo Riddick (6) celebrates with center Braxston Cave (52) after scoring on a 9-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the Southern California Trojans at the Los Angeles Memojansrial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Notre Dame has heard it all before. Whether it's talk of being overrated, living off of past glories or struggling against weak teams, none of the criticism is new. The 2012 season has been filled with that very rhetoric. However, with a trip to the BCS championship to face mighty Alabama, Notre Dame can finally quiet the haters.

The Irish locked up the No. 1 spot in the BCS last week by defeating rival USC and finishing the year 12-0. It was determined that whichever SEC powerhouse won this week's championship would face Notre Dame in the final game.

Alabama prevailed over Georgia 32-28 to punch its ticket to Miami in January.

Notre Dame fans have to be thrilled with the opportunity to face the Crimson Tide. Arguably the best team over the past two years and from what most would label as the best conference, Alabama presents a chance for the Irish to prove themselves against an established champion.

With its last championship coming in 1988, Notre Dame has become one of the most polarizing schools in college football. There's no middle ground when it comes to the Irish—you either love them or you hate them.

Detractors of the school could point to the TV deal with NBC and the fact that there has been little success in South Bend for a number of years. Notre Dame has just two total bowl victories since 1994: the 2008 Hawaii Bowl over Hawaii and the 2010 Sun Bowl over Miami.

Even after finishing 2012 undefeated, the argument can still be made that the Irish struggled against weak teams and didn't really register any huge victories other than a road victory at Oklahoma. Struggles against Purdue and Pittsburgh only fueled the "Notre Dame is not really that good" talk.

Even a road victory at USC didn't feel as grand as it could have, considering the Trojans finished the regular season at just 7-5.

When three teams were undefeated a few weeks ago, Oregon, Notre Dame and Kansas State, the though was that the Irish would find themselves on the outside looking in.

Fast-forward to the present and Notre Dame now finds itself one game away from glory.

A victory in the BCS championship will silence everyone for a long time. Nobody can argue against the fact that Alabama is a dominant and excellent football team.

Should the "golden domers" come out victorious against the Tide,  all talk about weak opponents and being overrated would go out the window.