The 2013 BCS National Championship Game between Alabama and Notre Dame will not have a shortage of key matchups.
Each of these storied programs has dealt with adversity on their way to the title game. Neither is perfect, although each have been pretty close.
At the end of the day, though, each team will have to win one specific battle in order to become champions.
Here’s a look at the Irish and Crimson Tide’s biggest key to doing just that.
Notre Dame: Defensive Line vs. Alabama’s Offensive Line
Alabama boasts one of the most physical and domineering offensive lines in college football—if not the best. Stanford may be able to match their physicality, but there isn’t anyone else in the same ballpark.
Luckily for the Irish, their defensive line is one of the team's biggest strengths.
The key individual matchup to watch in this battle is between Alabama center Barrett Jones and Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix. Notre Dame will have great success if Nix can find a way to get into Jones low and get penetration up the middle.
Getting penetration and disrupting the Tide’s running lanes will be key for this defensive line’s success.
Alabama: Connect on the Big Play
Notre Dame has been susceptible to being beaten over the top at times this season. Its strong front seven has shadowed that weakness for most of the season, but it is still a glaring hole that the Crimson Tide must exploit.
A.J. McCarron has been shaky when going down the field at times this season, but the junior QB must connect on a couple of big plays in order to help the Tide become BCS champs.
Notre Dame’s defense is second in the nation (Alabama is first) in red-zone defense. That means points will likely be few and far between for 'Bama.
Scoring on the big play will help the Crimson Tide distance themselves from the Irish in what is sure to be a low-scoring and hard-fought affair.