Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson already passed his tests against the stiff defenses of Michigan State and Stanford. But his final exam awaits in the form of Alabama's vaunted defense, which is perceived by many to be the nation's best.
Golson proved throughout the season that he is capable of beating defenses with his superb mobility, but throwing the football is where he showed inconsistency at times.
Against an Alabama defense that thrives and capitalizes on its opponents' turnovers and mistakes, Golson cannot afford any miscues, particularly while throwing the ball.
There is reason for optimism, though.
The 6'0", 185-pound quarterback had, perhaps, the three highest-quality performances of the season in the Irish's final three games, which were victories against Boston College, Wake Forest and USC.
In those three contests, Golson completed 51 of 80 pass attempts for 763 yards and five touchdowns. Most importantly, Golson only turned the ball over once on a desperate heave to the end zone, just seconds before halftime against Wake Forest in South Bend.
Again, what we saw from Golson in those final three games was a mixture of maturity and skill that has resulted in what head coach Brian Kelly has preached every day during his tenure at Notre Dame; consistency.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban may be the only other man in America who preaches consistency more than Kelly, and that has resulted in his program gunning for its third BCS National Championship in the past four seasons. That remarkable span has been due, in large part, to the aforementioned Crimson Tide defense.
Will Golson have success throwing the football against that unit?
For an answer, just turn to the box score of the Tide's 29-24 loss against Texas A&M back on Nov. 10.
During that lone loss of Alabama's 2012 season, Johnny Manziel was able to crack Saban's masterfully built defense with a combination of mobility and smart decisions with the football.
Manziel torched the Tide defense for 253 passing yards not only because he's an accurate passer, but also because he kept Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart honest through his ability to move the sticks running the ball. Manziel, known as a pass-first quarterback like Golson, finished the afternoon with 92 rushing yards on 18 carries.
Manziel's 92 rushing yards that day were 13 more than the Alabama defense has allowed all season.
Now, Golson certainly isn't as explosive as this season's Heisman Trophy winner (any discussion about the silliness of that award belongs in another article), but he possesses the same skill set that proved so lethal against Saban and Co.
And no matter how prepared Saban's defense is entering the BCS National Championship Game next month, Golson will have success throwing the ball if he continues to play consistent, mistake-free football.
He won't have to play a perfect game, but he'll have to strictly adhere to the game plan and play to his strengths.
So, yes, Golson can and will have success throwing the football against Alabama.