BCS Championship Game 2013: 9 Biggest Turning Points
SEC fans are crowing and Notre Dame fans are hiding their team apparel after the Fighting Irish were demolished by Alabama, 42-14. The Crimson Tide won their third national title in four years.
About the only drama this game featured was Alabama center Barrett Jones shoving his roommate, quarterback AJ McCarron, late in the fourth quarter.
Notre Dame only allowed two 100-yard rushers all season long, but both T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy reached the mark against a Fighting Irish defense which was woefully overmatched.
While football is generally a game of inches, this game did not hinge on a single play—or even a few plays. The Irish were clearly outmatched, and it showed all night long.
In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, Nick Saban might actually crack a smile, although that's hard to imagine. After all, he was talking about preparation for next year less than 60 seconds after his team won the 2013 national title.
This list runs down the nine key plays that helped set up the Tide victory and another SEC national title.
Alabama's First Pass
On Alabama's first play of the game, the call was a handoff to Eddie Lacy. He struggled to reach the edge set by Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt.
So the Tide resorted to plan "B." AJ McCarron dropped back and delivered a perfect strike to Kevin Norwood for a 29-yard gain.
And the Tide were rolling.
Four plays later, Lacy found the end zone on a 20-yard run, and the rout was on.
Eddie Lacy Establishes Himself
Before most of us settled in, the Irish were down by seven courtesy of Eddie Lacy, who found the end zone six plays into the game.
From the beginning, it was obvious Lacy was going to run with a vengeance. The touchdown that kicked off the scoring set the tone for the rest of the game.
This touchdown also set off impromptu celebrations by Alabama fans across the country.
Pac-12 Refs Do Their Thing
It all started with the "incomplete" pass to Tyler Eifert on 3rd-and-2 on Notre Dame's initial drive of the game.
On the very next play, a penalty was called on Notre Dame for Alabama running into its own returner.
That's right, no Notre Dame player touched Christion Jones on the ensuing punt return, setting up Alabama's second drive of the game.
Those two calls made it clear that the referees were determined to wreak as much havoc as possible on this BCS title game.
Play Action Works
What a start!
Alabama rolled all over the Irish on its second drive of the game, taking 10 plays to score the second touchdown of the game.
The effectiveness of the Tide rushing game set up the touchdown, a three-yard pass play off play action to a wide-open Michael Williams in the end zone.
McCarron may not have an easier play in his entire career.
With just under two minutes gone in the second quarter, Notre Dame was already down 21-0.
Facing a 4th-and-5, Brian Kelly decided to go for it. The Irish couldn't get anything going on offense and needed something, anything, to get going.
Everett Golson threw a ball that hung in the air, and it was easily batted down, giving Alabama possession again.
And to this point, Alabama had not been slowed, much less stopped, by the vaunted Irish defense.
Notre Dame took the ball to start the third quarter, down 28-0. Everett Golson led the Irish on a march down the field and into 'Bama territory.
Then, in an ridiculous move, Brian Kelly's team decided to challenge All-American cornerback Dee Milliner on a fly route that proved disastrous for Notre Dame.
Milliner played the ball perfectly, tipped it into the air and HaHa Clinton-Dix came down with the circus interception. That killed the Notre Dame drive and set the Tide up for yet another scoring drive.
The domination at this point prompted plenty of superhero references in the Twitterverse.
The Avengers have been re-deployed to deal with the rising threat of the SEC.— Zachary D. Rymer (@zachrymer) January 8, 2013
The Bleeding Stops
At the 4:08 point of the third quarter, Notre Dame finally put some points on the board and stopped the onslaught.
To that point, Alabama had gone nearly seven quarters of the last two BCS National Championship Games without allowing a point.
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson led the Irish on an 85-yard drive down the field that he capped with a two-yard run for the score.
The momentum did not really turn at this point, but it temporarily slowed the scoring.
...And Starts Again
Nick Saban didn't ease up after the Irish scored their first points of the game.
The Tide marched right down the field and capped off the drive with a touchdown strike to Amari Cooper. It seemed like a bit of overkill, considering the four-touchdown lead they enjoyed at the time.
With that catch, Cooper set the Alabama record for touchdown receptions in a single season and passed Julio Jones' receiving yards record.
And he did it as a freshman.
The touchdown was AJ McCarron's fourth of the game and Cooper's second, as the two also hooked up in the middle of the third quarter.
Golson Deserves Some Credit
Late in the game, Everett Golson continued to play well, leading the Irish on a drive to bring the score to 42-14.
His six-yard touchdown pass to Theo Riddick brought his stats to 21-of-36 for 270 yards, two total touchdowns and one interception.
The score also prompted a Nick Saban tirade on the sidelines.