Alabama Football: Top 7 Myths Surrounding the BCS Championship Game
The boys over at ESPN appear to be working overtime in an effort to make Notre Dame the greatest thing for football since the forward pass. The problem with this campaign is that the majority of their finer points are based on myths.
It's hard to blame ESPN for what they are doing. After all, it is their network that will air the BCS title game in which Alabama is by most oddsmakers a 10-point favorite. They have to give the unbiased and casual fan a reason to watch, don't they?
And as we have seen throughout the month of December from the experts at the four-letter network, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are clearly the better team and will cruise right by the weaker Alabama from that tiny little conference called the SEC.
Unfortunately, this is nothing more than quality and effective advertising. Before you get sucked in to the Irish cult that used to be the national media, however, let me help to debunk some of the myths that you are being spoon-fed at every turn.
1. Everett Golson Is a Dual-Threat Quarterback
No, he is not.
If you believe everything that you hear, you are probably among those that believe the differences between Johnny Manziel and Golson are minimal.
Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner, ran for almost 1200 yards and 19 touchdowns this year, averaging over six yards per carry.
Golson, however, has run for just 305 yards and five touchdowns on the season. So basically he averages about 27 yards on eight carries per game. Manziel averaged 98 yards per game this season on 15 carries.
On the season, Golson has gained 3.43 yards per carry on average. In his best game of the year, he ran for 74 yards and a score on 15 carries against a poor Pitt team. You may remember that the unbeatable Irish won that game in three overtimes.
Not only is Golson a minimal threat to run effectively, but he is also not exactly the top passer in the country. He has the 64th-best passer rating in the nation and has completed under 59 percent of his passes.
To be fair, Golson has led his team to an undefeated season thus far, and he deserves credit for that.
That being said, a quarterback that averages less than 30 yards per game on the ground does not strike fear in any team that has faced the likes of Tebow, Newton and Manziel in recent years.
2. Alabama Won't Be Able to Score on Notre Dame in the Red Zone
Yes, it will.
Notre Dame does in fact have the second-best defense in the nation when it comes to red zone efficiency. As luck would have it, they're right behind Alabama.
The Irish have allowed just eight touchdowns in 33 opportunities down there on the season, a 24 percent touchdown conversion rate. They do lead the nation in that metric.
But the Alabama offense is what eliminates this as a major factor.
The Tide offense has converted on 51-of-57 red zone chances this year, reaching the end zone 41 times for a 71 percent touchdown conversion rate.
Unrelated, but for the record, Notre Dame's red zone offense is 118th in the nation in touchdown conversions. This is the statistic that should be getting prime-time coverage right now.
Notre Dame is no doubt an imposing force when backed against their own goal, and they will provide a true test for Alabama. But to surmise that the Tide will cease to produce once they gets inside the 20 when they have been among the most successful in the nation there all season is just ridiculous.
3. Notre Dame Has the Best Defense in the Country
Well, not exactly.
Notre Dame does lead the nation in scoring defense, yielding just 10.3 points per game. Alabama is right behind them, giving up a mere 10.7 per game.
Technically, they are first and second in the country.
This is where the similarities end, though.
Alabama is first in rushing defense, total defense, first downs allowed, red zone defense and long plays from scrimmage allowed.
The Tide are also ahead of Notre Dame in passing defense, third-down defense and turnovers forced.
By my math, this puts the Tide ahead of the Irish in eight of nine defensive categories.
Again, Notre Dame has a very, very good defense. But do not fall victim to believing what the national media wants you to believe.
Alabama has played one more game than Notre Dame has, and it has given up just 15 more points on the season.
4. Notre Dame Has Played the More Difficult Schedule
No, they have not.
The fact of the matter is that these two teams have played very comparable schedules this year.
Alabama has played four ranked teams to three for Notre Dame. The Irish, however, have played seven FBS teams with winning records while 'Bama has played six.
Notre Dame has played nine 2012 bowl teams while Alabama has played just seven.
Among teams currently ranked in the BCS standings, Alabama has played three of the top nine in Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M. Notre Dame, on the other hand, has played just one Top 10 team (Stanford).
When it comes down to it, to say that either of these teams has played a considerably tougher schedule than the other would be irresponsible and inaccurate.
5. Manti Te'o Will Be the Best Defensive Player on the Field
No, this is not true either.
The Heisman finalist Te'o is undoubtedly one of the best linebackers in the nation. He seems like a classy guy and a good kid overall. But there are many others like him.
One of them is Alabama's C.J. Mosley. Statistically, he is every bit as good as Te'o.
Manti has 103 tackles on the year, 52 of them solo efforts. Mosley, however, has 99 tackles, and 61 of them were solo.
Mosley has seven tackles for loss while Te'o has only 5.5. Mosley also has four sacks to just 1.5 for Manti.
Both have returned one fumble and only Mosley has caused one.
Manti impressively has seven interceptions to just two for Mosley. He also has four pass breakups while Mosley has two, and his four quarterback hurries are one better than the three that Mosley has tallied.
One more thing here. Mosley typically is not on the field unless the Tide are expecting the opposing offense to pass the ball. Mosley has not been in on nearly as many plays as Te'o has.
Not to say that Mosley is better, mind you, but Te'o is not head and shoulders better than Mosley either.
6. Notre Dame Will Be Able to Stop Alabama from Running Effectively
No, it will not.
Alabama running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon have both gone over 1000 yards on the ground this year, and both of them average more than six yards per carry.
Notre Dame has the fourth-best rushing defense in the nation, giving up just 92 yards per game.
One of the two is going to have to give in next week's title game.
The best rushing defense Alabama has played this season belongs to LSU (10th). The Tide ran 25 times for 166 yards and two scores on them.
Alabama has run on opponents for over 200 yards eight times this year and has gone over 300 yards three times, most notably against Georgia in the SEC championship game.
The Tide offensive line is widely recognized as the best in the conference, and the running backs make the most of it.
As for the Irish rushing defense, this is the same group that was gashed for 144 yards by lowly Pitt and is allowing more than three yards per carry on the year.
Alabama is not likely to go north of 200 again, but the dynamic duo of Lacy and Yeldon combined with their punishing offensive line and the most balanced offense in the country will indeed be effective against the Irish.
7. Irish TE Eifert Will Give the Tide Defense Fits
That's not true either.
First of all, tight ends do not cause Nick Saban to lose sleep.
At 6'6, 251 pounds, Tyler Eifert is truly one of the best in the land at his position and will be a major factor in the NFL one day. He has caught 44 passes for 624 yards and four touchdowns on the year.
This being the case, the reality is that Eifert has caught just eight passes for 117 yards and one score against ranked teams. He catches less than four passes for just over 50 yards per game.
If this is what the Irish are banking their hopes on, they are in serious trouble against Alabama.
While Eifert can fill both tight end and wide receiver roles, 'Bama will most likely find its answer in Mosley. Mosley is faster than Eifert, has more overall athleticism and only gives away three inches to the big tight end.
Eifert will surely catch a few passes and may help Notre Dame find a few extra first downs here and there, but the Irish will need much more than he can provide to keep this game close.