Alabama vs. Notre Dame: Breaking Down Quarterback Battle in Championship Game

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2013

The BCS National Championship Game is a matchup of great defenses and solid running games, but the game will come down to the quarterback battle.

Although this is nothing new for a football game of this magnitude, these two quarterbacks usually let the rest of their team take care of business.

Still, it will be between A.J. McCarron and Everett Golson to lead his team to victory.

These quarterbacks have very different strengths and weaknesses, but one will have the advantage going into the final game of the year.

Here are the biggest factors that will separate the two players in the title game.


Passer Efficiency

Alabama's A.J. McCarron might not have the best arm strength, but he separates himself from his competition based on his efficiency.

The junior ended the regular season with the best passer rating in the country at 173.1. He not only keeps a high completion percentage, but he avoids turnovers. He only threw three interceptions all season compared to his 26 touchdowns.

This is something that Everett Golson has struggled with this year. Low completion percentage and a lack of touchdowns have the Notre Dame quarterback ranked No. 64 among qualified players in passer rating. That is a problem for a team competing for a national championship.

In the Crimson Tide's only loss this season, McCarron had two interceptions. Unless Notre Dame can force these types of mistakes, the veteran quarterback will have a huge advantage in this category.



What Golson lacks in his passing ability, he makes up for with his legs. The first-year starter only rushed for 305 yards this year, but he has a unique ability to extend plays with his mobility.

This will be vital against an Alabama defense that has some of the top athletes in the country. 

Golson needs to stay on his feet as long as possible and allow his receivers to get open down the field. This is the way Johnny Manziel was able to have success against this defense in Alabama's only loss of the year.

Conversely, A.J. McCarron is much more of a pocket passer. He is usually well-protected by a dominant offensive line, but it could be a little more difficult against Stephon Tuitt and the Notre Dame pass rush.

With two tough defenses, Golson's mobility could be game-changing.


Clutch Factor

There is little doubt that this battle between the two best teams in the country will come down to the wire. At that point, the game will be decided by whichever quarterback can make the big play to win.

McCarron has a lot more experience, and in turn he has gotten much more comfortable in pressure situations. 

In the win over LSU this season, the quarterback led a 72-yard drive in 43 seconds for the go-ahead touchdown. Against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, McCarron threw a perfect pass to Amari Cooper for the game-winning 45-yard touchdown.

On the other hand, he threw an interception in the end zone in the closing minutes of the loss to Texas A&M.

Golson also had his solid comebacks, like against Pittsburgh, but he still has a lot to prove in this category.

In the end, the experience of McCarron might be what puts him and his team over the edge.



Everett Golson has a lot to offer with both his arms and his legs. However, the steady play of A.J. McCarron is exactly what is needed in this tough defensive battle.

The Alabama quarterback has the better of this matchup and that might be all it takes for the Tide to win their second national championship in a row.