BCS Championship 2013: Why Alabama Won't Break a Sweat Beating Notre Dame
Notre Dame may not know this yet, but when it faces the Crimson Tide of Alabama on January 7 in the BCS championship game, the Irish have no chance to come out on top.
In fairness, Alabama will actually break a sweat in this game. It will not be much of one, though.
Notre Dame has absolutely earned its way into this game. The Irish played a reputable schedule and have navigated their way through it unscathed.
Having said that, they have played no one the caliber of Alabama.
While the national media is deeply entrenched in its obvious love affair with Notre Dame, try not to be fooled. Notre Dame is good for ratings. Just ask its television partner NBC.
When all the talking is behind us, though, and game day finally arrives, it will be the Alabama Crimson Tide that the experts pick to win this game.
This may sound like a bold statement, but the Irish are one of the great paper tigers in recent memory.
Why am I so confident that the Tide will wipe the floor with Notre Dame? Here's why.
First of all, Nick Saban has proven himself time and time again on the big stage. He is already 3-0 in BCS title games while Irish head coach Brian Kelly is dipping his toes into championship waters for the first time.
When given this long to prepare, Saban is 10-1 at Alabama (seven of them were in the Top 10 at the time) with his last loss coming to undefeated Utah in the 2008 Sugar Bowl.
With no disrespect intended towards Kelly, he simply has no chance of outwitting the master.
This places any chance of an Irish upset in the hands of the players.
This will be arguably the best offense Notre Dame has faced all year. While known to be a ground and pound running team, the Tide actually have one of the most balanced offenses in the country with only 132 more yards on the ground than they have through the air.
The offense is built on the backs of arguably the best offensive line in the nation led by first team AP All-Americans Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack.
The behemoths up front provide the king-sized holes that pave the way for running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon.
Both Lacy and Yeldon have gone for over 1,000 yards this fall and only average 14 and 12 carries per game, respectively. Interchangeable, the two rotate in and out often to ensure that fresh legs are always right behind quarterback AJ McCarron.
McCarron leads the nation in passing efficiency and plays his role to perfection. Often called a game manager, McCarron has "managed" his way to BCS title games in both of his seasons as the Tide's offensive leader. The dubious title doesn't seem to affect him.
Injuries to the receiving corps led Alabama to its current go-to man and budding superstar Amari Cooper. A freshman only by eligibility standards, Cooper has become the deep threat for the Tide that will prevent the Irish from stacking the box eight deep.
That is where the balance comes from.
Notre Dame will be able to slow the Tide, but it will be unable to stop it as 'Bama has scored 21 points or more in 51 of its last 53 games.
Since the defense cannot win it for the Irish, the offense will have to.
Defensively, Alabama is young in areas. The defensive front is not one of them.
Alabama has the nation's best rushing defense and nose guard Jesse Williams is the first line of defense. He will be backed up by linebackers Adrian Hubbard, Nico Johnson and Trey DePriest if the Irish backs manage to get that far. By the way, all of them have running back speed.
The lack of ability to run effectively will force the Irish to throw the ball more than they want to and in long-yardage situations.
This does not bode well for Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson. In three games against ranked opponents, Golson has completed less than 50 percent of his passes for less than 125 yards per game on average, throwing three interceptions to just one touchdown.
The 'Bama defensive backfield that includes future NFL draft picks like Dee Milliner, Robert Lester and C.J. Mosley will not help him to improve those numbers at all.
Notre Dame is going to have to score in the 20's just to stay in this game, and I just don't see any way that it is going to happen for them. If the Irish can't manage to do it against the likes of Purdue, Boston College and BYU, they certainly aren't going to do it against Alabama.
There is talk of the Irish going to a no-huddle approach as Saban is allegedly afraid of the concept. If Notre Dame had Johnny Manziel, it might work. It doesn't. As a team, the Alabama defense has much more speed than the Notre Dame offense. Hurry-up will not be the answer.
Again, Notre Dame deserves more respect than I am willing to give it. Still, when looking at the matchups and finding that Alabama has the advantage in the vast majority of them, this game is not going to result in the first national title for Notre Dame since 1988.
It will not be a total blowout and will be a close game going into the half. In the second half, the Irish will begin to feel the strain and show the signs of a team that is physically worn down and out-manned.
Alabama will pull away late and win this game somewhere in the neighborhood of 23-6 and take its 15th national title back to Tuscaloosa where the road to No. 16 will begin promptly on January 9.
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