Notre Dame vs. Alabama: Each Team's Biggest Key to Victory

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2013

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JANUARY 06:  Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly spreaks with members of the media during the Discover BCS National Championship Head Coaches Press Conference on January 6, 2013 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

On Monday night, the No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish will square off against the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game.

For this one evening, every college football fan from every corner of the world will be focused on the biggest matchup of the season.

With the biggest prize in the sport on the line between two of the most storied programs in the history of college athletics, this game is bound to go down as one of the best matchups fans see all year.

There is a genuine national excitement around the BCS National Championship in 2013.


Where: Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Fl

When: Monday, Jan. 7 at 8:30 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN

Live Stream: Watch ESPN

Listen: ESPN Radio


Alabama’s Biggest Key to Victory: A.J. McCarron, QB

As tough as the Fighting Irish have it against Alabama’s defensive unit, Crimson Tide junior quarterback A.J. McCarron is in for a long day against the nation’s top defense of Notre Dame.

Against a defense led by Heisman Trophy candidate middle linebacker Manti Te'o, McCarron will have to contend with a speedy defensive unit that reads the run well and is even better against the short passes.

With the Alabama limiting McCarron to short-yardage passes for the most part this season, there is a legitimate matchup issue against Notre Dame that the young QB must overcome.

If that doesn't work, McCarron could just keep handing the ball off to the powerful running backs; whatever works for the Crimson Tide.


Notre Dame’s Biggest Key to Victory: Everett Golson, QB

There is no questioning just how pleasantly surprising the play of dual-threat quarterback Everett Golson has been this season for Notre Dame, but he has yet to face a defense the caliber of the Crimson Tide.

Alabama has an NFL-worthy defensive unit that will line up in formations that Golson has never seen before; Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide coaching staff had over a month to plan tricks to keep the sophomore QB on his heels throughout the game.

If the Fighting Irish can limit the number of risky situations they put the young QB in and don’t give Alabama’s defense a chance to make the big plays, there is still a chance they could shock the world and win a national title.


Prediction: Alabama 17, Notre Dame 13

With two of the best defenses in the nation (Notre Dame is No. 1 and Alabama is No. 2) squaring off on the biggest stage of the all, this BCS National Championship is setting up to be one of the best old-school battles of the 2012-13 bowl season.

As well as Notre Dame has played on the offensive side of the ball, the Crimson Tide are too tough on defense to allow themselves to be beaten by a mediocre passing QB like Golson.

Alabama will sneak out a close win, 17-13.


Check back for more on the NCAA football as it comes, and don’t miss Bleacher Report’s College Football page to get your fill of college football.