They say that defense wins championships, and over the last few years, Alabama has proved that time and time again.
But if there's one area in which Alabama has struggled during this near-dynasty period of Alabama football, it's against mobile quarterbacks.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel racked up 345 total yards in a 29-24 win over the Crimson Tide this season. Former LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson came in for an ineffective Jarrett Lee in the regular season meeting in 2011 and hurt Alabama with the option to the tune of 43 rushing yards. Jefferson, former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and former South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia all toppled the Tide in 2010.
Those are Alabama's only five losses over the last three seasons.
Sure, not every one of those players used their legs to beat Alabama. But the Crimson Tide defense had to respect the threat that each quarterback possessed, which kept it on its heels.
On Jan. 7, 2013, Alabama will again square off against a mobile quarterback: Notre Dame signal-caller Everett Golson.
After rushing for minus-11 yards in Notre Dame's first four games of the season, Golson has erupted down the stretch, rushing for 316 yards in the last seven games in which he has played. In addition to his success on the ground, he has passed for 200 or more yards in each of his final four contests.
Is Golson Notre Dame's version of "Johnny Football"?
No, of course not. Nobody is.
But he is capable of looking like him at times. And if Alabama plays undisciplined, he is fully capable of burning the Crimson Tide.
The one difference between this matchup against Golson and the previous five losses against mobile quarterbacks is time.
All five of those games came in the middles of the season and not with time to prepare. With more than a month between the SEC Championship Game and the BCS National Championship Game, the likelihood of Alabama head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart getting caught off-guard by are slim-to-none—and slim left the building long ago.
For evidence, see: Michigan's Denard Robinson in the season-opener in 2012.
But just because Alabama is prepared for Golson doesn't mean it can stop him.
Notre Dame's defense will steal headlines, but Golson is a dynamic threat that will test Saban and Smart this winter as they prepare for the Fighting Irish.
Alabama has the athletes and the coaching staff to put in place a scheme to slow him down, but one or two blown assignments could drastically change the game.