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Will the SEC reign superior in the BCS title game?
No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide
After a breathtaking 32-28 victory over third-ranked Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, the Tide have weathered the conference storm well enough to get a crack at repeating as national champions.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame is fighting to prove that its storybook season isn't just the luck of the Irish, and that it legitimately belongs back in the conversation amongst college football's premier programs both in tradition and current results.
Manti Te'o won the Maxwell Award, for the most outstanding player in college football. There's no denying that the All-American linebacker has been the catalyst for taking the Irish back to the sport's promised land.
These two teams are first and second in the BCS rankings and hold the same national positions in terms of points allowed per game. That should lend itself to a knockdown, drag-out battle in the trenches in an era where pass-happy offenses have headlined the college football landscape.
Whether fans view that as "boring" or a nice deviation from what's become the norm is a legitimate debate. But throwback football purists will be salivating before the kickoff of this game.
With two very stout defenses and deep, fantastic backfields, this matchup will come down to quarterback play—as football often does, since it's the most important position.
Everett Golson finally took the starting job for the Irish as the season unfolded. That prevented head coach Brian Kelly from resorting to a two-QB system as he did when he took the Cincinnati Bearcats to a BCS bowl.
On the Tide's side, there has been no question who the man has been all year long, and AJ McCarron has had defining moments in the team's two biggest wins. At LSU, the junior QB shook off a horrendous second half to drive the Tide to victory. In the SEC title game, he heaved a game-winning, 45-yard bomb to Amari Cooper with just over three minutes left.
As much trouble as Johnny Manziel gave the Bama defense in their only loss, Golson's dual-threat capabilities are nowhere near those of Johnny Football.
I trust McCarron more than Golson in this game, and that will prove to be the difference as Nick Saban guide the Tide to their second consecutive championship.
Final Score: Alabama 17, Notre Dame 13