The Alabama Crimson Tide might be favored to beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the BCS National Championship Game, but it's not going to come easy.
Some might be dismissing Notre Dame as a far weaker team in comparison to Alabama. But they're clearly a very good team considering they've gotten through their season unbeaten.
An upset could certainly be in the cards. In order for that to not happen, the Crimson Tide must try to accomplish these three goals.
Junior A.J. McCarron is a very good quarterback, but his greatest asset is his ability to avoid turning the ball over. He's only thrown eight interceptions in his two years as a starter, including a scant three this year.
With the overall quality of the team, McCarron doesn't need to throw for 300 yards and four touchdowns every game. He simply needs to manage the game and let the defense and running game do their jobs.
Turnovers are vital in almost every big upset.
The national championship is likely to be a close game, as well. The last thing the Crimson Tide want to do is give Notre Dame opportunities to stay in the game.
In their loss to Texas A&M, Alabama turned the ball over three times, with McCarron throwing two picks.
On the whole, the Crimson Tide have done a very good job protecting the ball, with the 12th-best turnover margin in the country. If they take care of the ball, Notre Dame will have a hard time picking up the victory.
Try and Blow the Game Open
The last thing the Fighting Irish want is a track meet. They've relied on their defense all year to get them to Miami.
This is going to be a huge task for Alabama, as the Golden Domers have the best defense in the country in terms of points against. They're only giving up a little over 10 points a game.
The most Notre Dame gave up all season was 26 against the Pittsburgh Panthers, and that took three overtimes.
That's why getting an early lead can be so important. Notre Dame doesn't have the kind of quick-strike offense that could overcome a huge deficit, especially in a short amount of time should Alabama carry a big lead late into the game.
Make Everett Golson Beat You
Simply put, if Alabama shuts down the Notre Dame running game, the Fighting Irish are toast.
Senior running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood have been the rocks of the Fighting Irish offense. If they can get in a groove, Notre Dame will be able to set the tone offensively.
Alabama needs to disrupt this by negating the effect of the Riddick/Wood combo.
Sophomore Everett Golson has been good this season, but he hasn't been spectacular. He's done well enough letting the running game take over and managing the game.
Golson, and Notre Dame in general, could be in trouble if he has to be the spark for the offense.
He's a bit of a threat on the ground, which is to his advantage considering how freshman Johnny Manziel performed in the Aggies' upset of Alabama. However, Golson is nowhere near the dual threat that Manziel is.