If Notre Dame is to defeat Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7, sophomore quarterback Everett Golson must have the game of his life.
With so much emphasis being placed on the rushing attacks and run defenses of Notre Dame and Alabama, the player who may have the biggest impact on the outcome of the game is being largely ignored.
The last time Notre Dame faced a run defense like Alabama's unit was on Oct. 13. The Fighting Irish came away with a narrow 20-13 overtime win, but they also averaged 3.4 yards per carry while failing to score a rushing touchdown.
Alabama has allowed 2.46 yards per carry this season (via CFBStats.com), the best mark in the FBS by a wide margin. Notre Dame has averaged 4.99 yards per carry, tied for 28th in the nation. If the Fighting Irish expect to outscore Alabama, even with a fine defensive effort, Golson needs to be efficient with the football.
The reviews for the sophomore this season have been mixed. He's averaged 7.6 yards per pass attempt (tied for 45th in the nation), but he has an 11-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and he's also rushed for 305 yards and five touchdowns, displaying dual-threat ability.
Beyond that, after a rough two games against Oklahoma and Pittsburgh, Golson bounced back against Boston College, Wake Forest and USC to end the regular season.
Of course, against more comparable pass defenses to Alabama in Oklahoma, Michigan, Michigan State and Stanford, Golson struggled mightily. Given the Crimson Tide have allowed just 6.0 yards per pass attempt (tied for 15th in the country) and seven passing touchdowns (tied for fourth) this season while notching 17 interceptions (tied for 14th), there's certainly reason for concern in South Bend.
It goes both ways, too. If the Notre Dame rushing attack expects to get off the ground, Golson must make the Crimson Tide pay from the start if they load the box. If he doesn't, it's going to make the entire offense's job more difficult in Miami.
Watch Everett Golson's every move on Jan. 7. One good or bad play from the youngster could ultimately determine the game.
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