Notre Dame is making its first run at the national title for the first time since 1988. It has been a long and suspenseful road to the top with this Irish team pushing through adverse situations and assumed insurmountable odds.
This team will be ready to play in Miami with no chance of a flop occurring for the Irish. Notre Dame has progressed very well through the year, putting together an undefeated run, but more importantly the team grew as the season progressed.
Everett Golson found his way and is now the leader of the offense, and the Irish defense got better with each passing week. Looking ahead to the national title matchup in Miami, here are the five reasons the Irish avoid the flop in January.
Alabama wants to run the football on offense. The play-action is a huge part of the Alabama offense, but without an effective ground game the threat is nullified.
Notre Dame has put together one of the best defensive front sevens in the country led by Manti Te'o and anchored by Louis Nix. Alabama has a very talented offensive front, but against talented fronts they have struggled to open rushing lanes in the middle of the field this year.
Nix is a very talented nose guard that will draw double-teams often, allowing for the talented interior linebackers to roam free and make plays on the Alabama running backs.
Notre Dame is No. 4 in the country against the run, and No. 6 in total defense. The Irish faced a lot of offensive talent this year and succeeded in keeping production at a minimum. Expect the same results in the title game as Alabama is far from an offensive juggernaut.
Everett Golson fought for the starting quarterback position early in the season, but by midseason he was the leader of the Notre Dame offense.
Golson has developed well as the season has progressed, turning into the offensive leader that the Brian Kelly Irish offense needed. Golson molded his game over the 12 game season, becoming a solid dual-threat for any team facing off with Notre Dame.
Alabama has consistently struggled with a dual-threat quarterback. The Crimson Tide defense is very good at assignment football, but when plays breakdown they struggle to keep position.
The Tide will try and keep pressure on Golson, but when he makes his own way he is tough to stop. Look for Golson’s playmaking ability to be a strong neutralizer in Miami.
In Alabama’s one loss this season there were few advantages that Texas A&M had over the Tide. One of them was size at the receiver position.
Alabama is known for its physical defensive backs, but when a pass-catcher is bigger, stronger and just as physical it causes problems for the Tide. The Aggies handed the Irish a blue print to success with Mike Evans.
Evans is the Aggies leading receiver this year so his impact against Alabama is not surprising, but how he impacted the game is. Evans caught five passes for 40 yards against the Crimson Tide.
While those aren’t explosive numbers, the fact that all five went for first downs is.
Tyler Eifert will have the same results against the Alabama secondary. Notre Dame will need a consistent first down threat and Eifert will be that guy.
Look for Eifert to have a huge day, lining up all over the field against Alabama. The more times the Irish can find mismatches with the Mackey Award winner, the more success Golson will have in the passing game.
If Eifert was battling with going pro, it will end after this performance in Miami.
Notre Dame has faced a number of spotlight games this year with almost all of them coming down to the wire.
A Stanford win came after a controversial goal line stand, it took overtime to beat Pitt and an interception sealed the win against the explosive Oklahoma offense.
The Irish have had multiple opportunities to crush under the pressure of being undefeated and under the microscope, but every time they pushed through and won the big games.
Brian Kelly is a big-time coach with two Division II titles under his belt. He knows how to get his team ready for championships.
As much of an advantage it is for Alabama to have been to the title game before, this Notre Dame team understands big situations. This team knows how to handle the spotlight and battle through adversity in the process.
These guys will be ready to play in Miami the minute the plane hits the tarmac for preparation week.
While defense will be a major factor in the game, clock control will be the leading battle. Neither team has an explosive offense with both teams relying on steady offensive production to earn yards and points.
When the final ticks of the clock fade away in Miami in January, the team that has the higher time of possession will likely walk away with the win.
Finding big plays will be difficult for these teams, but grinding out first downs will be a manageable strategy. Eventually a big play will pop-up and seal the victory for either the Irish or the Tide.