BCS Championship 2013: Who's to Blame for Notre Dame's Embarrassing Loss?
After 12 consecutive wins in 2012, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish ended their incredible run in disappointment on Jan. 7, being clubbed 42-14 by the Alabama Crimson Tide in the BCS National Championship Game.
The Irish were out of sorts from the start on both sides of the ball, as the Tide rolled to victory for their third title in the last four years.
The once-dominant Notre Dame defense couldn't stop Alabama on the ground or in the air, while the Irish offense was never able to generate any sort of momentum.
When so much went wrong, who was most at fault for the embarrassing Notre Dame loss?
Take a look at the patented Bleacher Report blame meter, as it measures the root of the Irish failure.
Low: Everett Golson
Notre Dame's sophomore quarterback, Everett Golson, had a rough outing, but the blame can't be squarely placed on the shoulders of the young signal-caller.
Still No. 5 must share a piece of the blame.
He finished 21-of-36 for 270 yards, one touchdown and one interception, but that one pick came at a terrible time.
Notre Dame was down big already but had the ball to start the second half. The Irish were driving, until Golson challenged Alabama's best cornerback on a deep ball.
Tide corner Dee Milliner tipped the ball and his safety Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix made an amazing grab to pull in the turnover.
From there, the lights were officially out on Notre Dame's national title hopes.
If Golson were better on Monday night, maybe the Irish would have had a shot—but it still would have been a very long shot.
Medium: Brian Kelly
Before the game, it appeared as though Brian Kelly had his team very well prepared.
He had a very tough task of game-planning for one of the most talented teams in college football, so he certainly had his hands full.
However, in warm-ups, the Irish were loose and motivated to buck their underdog distinction. Then, once the teams took the field, everything went sour for Notre Dame.
My biggest criticism of Kelly is on his apparent decision to attack All-American cornerback Dee Milliner. The Irish went right at Milliner on the very first drive, and he recorded two pass breakups on both attempts his direction.
They came out and attacked Milliner again in the third quarter, where he made the excellent play that resulted in an interception.
A lot of times in blowouts like this, the coach receives the majority of the blame, but in this case, Kelly's team was outmatched.
Medium-High: Manti Te'o
Manti Te'o was a Heisman Trophy finalist. In fact, he almost won the award. You wouldn't know it from watching the national title game, though.
Te'o uncharacteristically missed tackles right from the start of the game, and Alabama ran over him and his defense for four quarters. The senior ended up with 10 total tackles, but he missed a load of tackles as well.
To be fair, he was faced with probably the best opposing offensive line he has ever seen, and he was certainly not the only member of the Notre Dame defense missing tackles.
However, there were numerous occasions—including a potential interception and multiple tackles for a loss—where Te'o could have had a serious positive impact on the game.
On Monday night, the Heisman runner-up just didn't make the plays he needed to make.
Nearly every Notre Dame player said it during on-air interviews after the game: "Alabama was just a better team on that night."
Well, let's just cut out the "on that night" part—Alabama is simply a better team than Notre Dame.
The Tide dominated up front on both sides of the ball and in nearly every facet of the game. Whatever they wanted to do, they did, and there was very little the Irish could do to stop it.
The game really came down to the fact that 'Bama was nearly unstoppable on the ground, and the Irish just couldn't run against the aggressive, swarming Tide defense.
When that happens, it's tough to place the blame on any Notre Dame player or coach.