With the 2013 BCS National Championship approaching, there is certainly no shortage of storylines.
Two of the most historic, old-school programs in the country will face off for the highest honor in college football—the No.1-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish on one side and No. 2-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on the other.
The stage is set for a memorable title game.
But most people aren't really giving Notre Dame a chance in this one. Early lines have the Tide as heavy 10-point favorites, which is extremely high for a championship game.
This is the best team the Fighting Irish have had in some time, and the pieces are in place to make this a very close ball game.
Let's take a look at a few reasons why Notre Dame is more than capable of pulling off the upset.
1. Notre Dame will be the best defense Alabama has played
The SEC is known for its great defenses and top-tier athletes. There are no cupcakes on the schedule, and teams are forced to bring their A-game every week.
But the Crimson Tide has yet to face a defense quite like Notre Dame's. Led by Heisman candidate Manti Te'o, this Irish defense has talent across the board.
Notre Dame has the No. 1 scoring defense in the country, allowing just 10.3 points per game. The Irish held Oklahoma and Stanford to just 13 points apiece this season.
Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron will have his work cut out for him against this stifling defense. If Te'o and the Notre Dame front seven are able to shut down Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon and the Alabama running game, the Irish could be poised to pull off the upset.
2. Tyler Eifert is a matchup nightmare
Under head coach Nick Saban, Alabama is as well-coached as any program in the country. Saban has his players in the right place at the right time, and they're all 100 percent sure of their assignments.
But there are some matchups that even great scheming can't combat. Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert may be the best in the country at this position. Even if Saban conjures up the perfect game plan to defend Eifert, the 6'6", 251-pound tight end will be hard to contain when the ball is in the air.
Notre Dame's offensive attack is hard to scheme against. With a mobile quarterback in Everett Golson, Eifert has gotten better at improvising and getting open when the play breaks down.
Eifert is a real difference-maker in this game, and he'll likely be the first tight end taken in the 2013 NFL draft. Alabama has its work cut out for it trying to stop Eifert from having a big day.
3. Notre Dame's running game is better than given credit for
The Irish are known for their stout defense and good quarterback play. And for good reason, as Golson has emerged as one of the top playmakers across college football, and the defense is perhaps the best in the country.
But not many people are talking about the Notre Dame ground game, which is more than sufficient and will be huge against Alabama.
For Notre Dame to have success in the national championship, it will need to establish the running game to give the team a balanced attack offensively. If the Irish are forced to abandon the run and have Golson run a spread, pass-heavy attack, then the Crimson Tide defense will feast on the young quarterback.
Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood lead a reliable running game for the Fighting Irish. Riddick leads the team with 180 carries for 880 yards, while Wood averages a ridiculous 6.7 yards per carry. This one-two punch will be vital in Notre Dame's quest for an upset win over Alabama.
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