Alabama vs. Notre Dame: Which Is More Likely: A Tide Blowout or an Irish Upset?
Let's start off by saying that there will be no blowout in the BCS National Championship game. You aren't going to witness Alabama beating up Notre Dame by 30-plus points and the Irish certainly aren't scoring eight touchdowns in a shootout. Much like last year's title game, this will likely be a defensive slug-fest that features a low-scoring affair.
Even though Notre Dame is obviously not an SEC team, it is built very much like one, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Allowing only 286 total yards a game is good for sixth in the country and is only 40 more yards than Alabama gives up on average. The team simply gets after it and has been the majority of the reason the Irish will even be playing in this contest.
So why is there no possible chance Alabama blows the doors off Notre Dame come January?
Well, the logic is quite simple: great defensive teams don't get blown out. It doesn't matter how lousy the offense may be or how terrible your special teams is, if you have a defense that is elite status, there is almost no way that you are going to be embarrassed in the football game.
Just look at all of the top defenses of the 2012 college football season.
Let's say that a blowout is an outcome that results in a loss by three or more possessions. After all, a loss by one touchdown is certainly no difficult task to come back from and even a two touchdown loss isn't that daunting. With a break here and there, you could easily climb back into the game and make it competitive.
Florida State lost two games by a combined 12 points and had the second best defense in college football. Michigan State had the fourth best defense in the country and lost six games on the year. However, only one of those games resulted in a margin greater than four points, and even that game was less than three scores.
You could even take a team such as BYU, a squad that is very similar to Notre Dame. The Cougars play remarkable defense but struggle mightily to put points up on the board. Despite having four of their five losses come at the hands of ranked teams, only one loss was decided by more than six points.
The list continues, as you can look at Florida, LSU and even Boise State to further prove that a terrific defense will always keep you in the game. Notre Dame had only one game where it allowed more than 17 points all season long and Alabama has never been quite the team that was confused for the Oregon Ducks.
While quarterback A.J. McCarron has improved his play, the Crimson Tide would much rather pound the ball down your throat and beat you into submission. Well, run defense happens to be a strength of Notre Dame, as the team is allowing only 92 yards a game on the ground. Running the ball against this unit may come difficult and with the injury to receiver Kenny Bell, Alabama doesn't have the playmakers at receiver to light it up in the air.
I really don't know how many times it needs to be said how good this Notre Dame team is, especially on defense. It has faced many ranked teams throughout the year and even an offensive juggernaut in Oklahoma; it is a team that didn't blink.
Alabama does have the ability to overpower you with its running game, but let's not act like that is going to result in 45 points and quick scores.
Which is more likely?
The question in this game is can Notre Dame score on Alabama? Who knows? While Everett Golson is improving at the quarterback position and there are playmakers at running back and tight end, scoring hasn't come easy for the Irish.
But with that said, an explosion of offensive production won't be needed as long as that defense remembers how to play football. It is what has brought the Irish to the big game and it will play an enormous role in possibly winning it.
Whether SEC fans would like to admit it or not, these two teams have more in common than you would usually expect. And when two teams are nearly identical with its style of play, it tends to result in a hard-fought battle, which most of the time means a tight, low-scoring outcome.
A blowout is not happening regardless of who is victorious in the national championship.
You will see Notre Dame win a title before that happens.
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