The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Alabama Crimson Tide need only wait 10 more days before squaring off in the BCS National Championship.
When the matchup was first set in stone, the public immediately declared that 'Bama would win by a landslide.
Since then, however, as we've analyzed, then overanalyzed the matchup, some have tepidly jumped on the Notre Dame bandwagon. Alabama's still favored heavily (per Odds Shark), but it's not considered the lock it was three weeks ago.
I'm not sure exactly where I fall on that spectrum, but the change in attitude intrigues me nonetheless. So here's a throwback article effusively praising the Crimson Tide. A reminder as to why they were favored unequivocally to begin with.
Let's look at three Notre Dame weaknesses that Alabama will exploit in Miami.
The most pressing, and glaring, mismatch in this game is Notre Dame's pass offense vs. Alabama's pass defense.
The Crimson Tide's pass rush has been good-not-great in 2012, registering 33 sacks, good for third in the SEC and T-20th in the nation. Their secondary, however, has been incomparable.
Its 17 interceptions rank T-15th in the country, but the airtight coverage has been even more impressive. Dee Milliner, projected to be the top cornerback selected in the NFL Draft, has been the best lockdown corner in college football, rightfully earning First-Team All-American honors.
Alabama should be able to overwhelm Notre Dame's passing attack in Miami. Everett Golson and Co. have been, at best, competent at times in 2012. At worst, they've been totally anemic.
They average 218.8 passing yards per game, 77th-best in the country. They'd be lucky to crack 175 against Alabama.
The oft-overlooked art of the kicking game could cripple the Irish come Jan. 7th.
Sophomore Kyle Brindza waxed and waned through the 2012 season, but struggled mildly in the second half. He hasn't kicked a perfect game on field goals since October 13th against Stanford and has only done so thrice on the entire season.
He's making a hair under three-quarters of his kicks on the season and has struggled, in particular, from deep-middle range:
Alabama's defense rarely even bends. But when it does, it makes sure not to break.
It'll force the Irish into at least one or two kicks from 30-49 yards, which could be trouble for Brindza, who only converts on 61 percent of those kicks.
And that's without the added pressure of playing in the national championship.
Here's the postseason resume of a random four-year senior at Alabama:
- 2009 SEC Championship Game (W 32-13)
- 2010 BCS National Championship Game (W 37-21)
- 2011 Capital One Bowl (W 49-7)
- 2012 BCS National Championship Game (W 21-0)
- 2012 SEC Championship Game (W 32-28)
- 2013 BCS National Championship Game (TBD)
That's two SEC Championships and three national championships in four seasons.
By contrast, here's the postseason resume of a random four-year senior at Notre Dame:
That's....well....not two conference championships and three national championships in four seasons.
I think I'll rest my case.