Chicago Sun-Times
with Mark Lazerus

It'll be Notre Dame vs. Alabama for the BCS title

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Let the hype begin.

Notre Dame and Alabama -- two of college football's most storied programs -- will meet in South Florida on Jan. 7 for the BCS championship, as the second-ranked Crimson Tide held off No. 3 Georgia 32-28 in a thrilling SEC championship game on Saturday.

It'll be the first meeting between the third (ND) and seventh (Alabama) winningest teams in college football history since 1987. Notre Dame has won five of the six matchups, including the 1973 Sugar Bowl and the 1974 Orange Bowl.

The biggest matchup yet likely won't be the prettiest, as defense should rule the day. Notre Dame has the top scoring defense in the country, while Alabama is No. 2. Alabama has the second-best rush defense in the nation, Notre Dame is fifth -- and both teams are run-first offenses. The Tide racked up 353 rushing yards against Georgia, with big Eddie Lacy (185 yards) and freshman T.J. Yeldon (152 yards) doing the heavy lifting. But A.J. McCarron entered Saturday as the nation's second-most efficient passer, and despite throwing an interception and losing a fumble, he came up with the game-winning play, a 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper with 4:01 to go in the game. That perfect pass -- on play-action -- came after the Tide had lulled the Bulldogs to sleep with run after run after run.

The Irish have five weeks to find a weakness in the Tide defense. Of course, Alabama coach Nick Saban has five weeks to break down the Irish, too. But finals and time off for Christmas come first.

"I'm not going to get ready to play them until we start practicing," Saban said. "So I've got a couple weeks, I think."

The key for Alabama will be flustering redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson, and slowing down the Notre Dame ground game, featuring Theo Riddick (880 yards) and Cierre Wood (740 yards).

Alabama already has been installed as a 10-point favorite in Las Vegas. It's a familiar position for the Irish, who were never expected to win more than eight or nine games this season.

"Just keep doubting us... we love it," receiver Robby Toma said on Twitter.

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Hey, Alabama has the experience and the talent to blow these guys out of the water. Notre Dame will have to find a way to pass the ball and open up the run on that unforgiving secondary. Notre Dame is not used to seeing fast running backs with power or 4.2 speed at wide out this will be a walk in the park as long as Alabama plays disciplined Alabama football as they have all year. Once Nick gets to this level as history has shown he smells blood and goes in for the jugular. He has never coached a in a national championship game and lost. Notre dame; on the other hand, doesn't have a coach to have ever coached in a national championship game. My prediction 24-0 in the first half 28-3 at the end of the 3rd 35-0 middle fourth and 2nd and 3rd string come in to finish and gain experience Alabama wins 42-17. There are under dogs that have a chance, but there are just far too many challanges ND have to overcome to be successful. Penalty yds they give up. Talent and speed they haven't seen all year. inability to stop decent running programs(Alabamas is excellent two 1000 yd rushers) They have a freshman QB looking at pro defensive sets hard to read blitz packages and he is not "johnny football, no where close to being johnny football". Fluster him and the entire offense will crumble forcing the defense to stay on the filed getting slammed play after play then giving up the farm to a powerful stable of backs while Alabama gets 3 and out and fresh legs in at all times. not underestimating a decent team, just stating the facts. Notre Dame cannot play with any Top Ranked SEC team and have a chance especially not Alabama.

Notre dame will be beat Alabama. They are a team of destiny.

What a great matchup. What a great game lies ahead. And if N.D. can show up with a mobile quarterback, the day will end the way it did when A&M beat the great Bama. Unfortunately, Saban is an evil genius (have you EVER seen him smile?) and he'll figure out a way to contain N.D., grind out the ground game, and loft the crystal trophy once again.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Lazerus published on December 1, 2012 7:05 PM.

Notre Dame's Manti Te'o ready to hit the awards circuit was the previous entry in this blog.

Notre Dame's Te'o a Heisman finalist, Butkus Award winner is the next entry in this blog.

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