Alabama's offensive linemen have been the perfect foundation for the rushing attack all season. With an average of 224.6 yards on the ground per contest, the Crimson Tide finished the season second in the SEC in rushing.
Four of Alabama's five starting offensive linemen are projected to be picked in the first few rounds of the NFL Draft, which speaks to how talented the unit is.
The offensive line is centered by Barrett Jones, who has played every position on the line in his career in Tuscaloosa. He settled into the center position this season and found immediate success.
Jones won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's top center and was a finalist for the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy.
Jones will be tasked with blocking Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix, which promises to be a slugfest for four quarters. At 6'3" and 326 pounds, Nix has the size advantage over Jones when the two face off one-on-one.
According to Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune, Nix is familiar with Jones and respects him, as Nix said the following:
I've heard about (Jones). He's a real smart guy, real athletic. He's very strong at the point of attack. I have to be ready for him. He knows how to play the game, obviously, because he played three positions on the O-line. It takes a real good (player) to know how to play all three. I'm happy that (Jones) is the No. 1 center in the country. It gives me the opportunity to better myself and see where I fit in the country with the other nose tackles that went up against him.
Nix is motivated to display his skills against one of the nation's premier interior offensive linemen on the biggest stage in college football. On the other side of the line, Jones is trying to prove that he is worthy of a first-round draft pick, which is a rarity for interior offensive lineman.
When Nix is controlling the interior, he makes things easier for the rest of Notre Dame's defense. It will be up to Jones to limit the impact Nix makes, especially in the run game.
Alabama's offensive line will open up the holes needed in the run game and will give A.J. McCarron the time he needs to be successful from the pocket.
The play of the offensive line will be the base of an efficient offense, as Jones and the Crimson Tide will beat the Fighting Irish by a comfortable margin.
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