Alabama vs. Notre Dame 42-14: Big Win Sets Up A.J. McCarron for 2013 Heisman Run

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Alabama vs. Notre Dame 42-14: Big Win Sets Up A.J. McCarron for 2013 Heisman Run
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Alabama, one of the most highly favored teams in a national championship in history, did not disappoint.

With a 42-14 thrashing, the Crimson Tide proved the Notre Dame Fighting Irish frauds, and in doing so, made themselves into a dynasty, of whom A.J. McCarron is the leader. That status will finally get him Heisman recognition in 2013.

McCarron has been fighting the "game-manager" label throughout his career. He's not helped by his predecessors' unquestioned game-manager status: Greg McElroy and John Parker Wilson were hardly world-beaters. 

Despite a trend of average Alabama quarterbacks, McCarron is special. He proved as much against Notre Dame. This is a defense that dominated opposing passers, including future NFL quarterback Landry Jones. This was the No. 1 scoring defense in the country before the game. McCarron cut through it like warm butter, going for 264 yards and four touchdowns on just 28 attempts.

No game manager can make the throws that McCarron was making. He was delivering strikes deep down the field throughout the night, averaging well over 10 yards per completion. 

With a deep threat like Amari Cooper and a running game that sets up the deep play-action pass, McCarron can't afford to be a game manager. McCarron needs to use those weapons to their fullest, occasionally forcing the ball downfield. 

Ken Dorsey could not make these throws
McCarron does that and then some. His passing efficiency was the best in the nation. His yards per attempt approached 10. His touchdown-to-interception ratio was 3:1. The numbers don't lie: McCarron is special.

One thing working against McCarron for the Heisman is his lack of gaudy numbers. Sure, 30 passing touchdowns and the nation's best passing efficiency is nice, but it pales to the sheer audacity of Johnny Manziel's 5,116 total yards of offense.

McCarron will never get those numbers because the offense does not need him to. That doesn't mean McCarron is a lesser player, though. On the contrary, that helps him in 2013.

Where defenses will be keying on Johnny Football, McCarron will never be the focus of an opposing game plan. T.J. Yeldon and the Alabama running game will be too good to focus on McCarron, giving him the opportunity to maintain his ridiculous efficiency.

Heisman voters can occasionally ignore efficiency, but 2013 will force their hand. With McCarron leading yet another brilliant 'Bama squad, one likely to contend for the national championship yet again, Heisman voters will be forced to consider McCarron's case. Winning counts. Winning at nearly unprecedented levels counts a lot.

There will always be haters who say McCarron is just another Ken Dorsey. He's not. McCarron is a special talent with a pro-caliber arm, good decision-making and excellent leadership skills. This is the leader of the best team in the nation for two straight years. A third year like that will earn him the Heisman.

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