We’ve had weeks to analyze Alabama versus Notre Dame, and the emerging consensus seems to be that the Irish are not as of an underdog as many originally believed.
From the beginning, all of the talk surrounded the inevitable victory for the Crimson Tide. Notre Dame seemed to be an afterthought despite being undefeated, although having escaped a couple close calls, and carrying the No. 1 ranking heading into the game.
Is it sheer optimism by analysts and fans that the Irish will shock the Crimson Tide on Jan. 7? Or is it something more?
Let’s take a look at a couple reasons why the Irish are looking less and less like an underdog and more and more like a formidable threat to Alabama’s repeat hopes.
Everett Golson is Better Than You Think
Johnny Manziel proved that Alabama’s defense isn’t impenetrable. Golson may not be at the level of the Heisman Trophy winner, but he does bring some of the same traits to the table.
His ability to improvise when plays break down and get the ball to his receivers quickly will be keys against the aggressive front seven of the Crimson Tide.
Improvising is something he’s getting better and better at. While he doesn’t look to run first, he does have the ability to pick up big and timely chunks of yardage if the coverage drops and gives him windows to run through.
SEC Defenses Struggling in Bowl Games
Points have been easy to come by for SEC opponents in this year’s bowl games. That could signal a changing of the guard.
Then again, it could just mean that teams were able to find areas to exploit thanks to added preparation and an entire season of tape to watch.
Whatever it is that is troubling SEC defenses in bowl season, the Irish could take advantage and put up some points against the Crimson Tide.
Defense Wins Championships
Anything can happen when you put two stout defenses on the field against one another. Both Notre Dame and Alabama boast two of the stingiest units in the nation.
What makes them so impressive is their ability to stop opponents from finishing drives with touchdowns. Alabama are the No. 1 and Notre Dame are the No. 2 scoring defenses in the country.
If the game comes to a defensive standstill, the championship may be decided by one or two big plays. If that’s the case, than this is truly anyone’s game.