Alabama may be favored in its BCS national championship matchup with Notre Dame, but the Fighting Irish do have a good chance to pull of an upset and win the school's first title since 1988.
With a good defense and strong special teams, Notre Dame has a great chance to end the SEC's recent dominance in BCS title games.
Let's look at three keys to victory for the Fighting Irish.
Stop the Run
Notre Dame has almost no chance to beat Alabama if it doesn't stop the run and prevent the Crimson Tide from dominating possession of the football.
The Fighting Irish must win the battle at the line of scrimmage if they want to stop star running backs T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy from racking up a ton of yards.
Alabama currently ranks 19th in the nation with 224.6 rush yards per game, and both Yeldon and Lacy finished the regular season with 1000 yards or more on the ground.
The Crimson Tide need the running game to be effective to help quarterback A.J. McCarron and the passing attack. If the Fighting Irish can stop the run and force McCarron to win the game, their chances of winning will increase dramatically.
Don't Turn the Ball Over
Field position will be an important part of this game, and for Notre Dame to prevent Alabama from having easy scoring opportunities, it cannot turn the ball over.
The Crimson Tide ranked third in the SEC with 17 interceptions, and they do a tremendous job of rushing the passer and forcing opposing quarterbacks into making mistakes.
If Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson doesn't protect the football, it will be very difficult for the Fighting Irish to win this game. Ball security has to be a top priority against a defense as talented as Alabama's.
Golson has thrown just two interceptions in his last seven games, but the Alabama defense will be his most difficult challenge of the season.
Test the Alabama Secondary
The Alabama secondary hasn't performed too well against the last three good opponents that the team has played.
Against LSU, Texas A&M and Georgia, the Crimson Tide defense allowed an average of 277 yards through the air and a total of four passing touchdowns.
Alabama's secondary hasn't played awful this year, but it's not as strong as it was last season when star safety Mark Barron and talented cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick were on the team. Both of these players were first-round picks in the 2012 NFL draft.
The Notre Dame offense should attack the Alabama secondary and try to connect on some big plays downfield. If the Fighting Irish have some early success in the passing game, it will make running back Theo Riddick's job a lot easier.
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