Keys for a Alabama and Notre Dame Victory, Prediction
Notre Dame (12-0) vs. Alabama (12-1)
January 7, 2013 | 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Keys to victory for the Fighting Irish: A few things are going to have to happen for Notre Dame to win its first national championship since 1988, but I’ll start with the most important factor: Everett Golson. The redshirt freshman quarterback has developed nicely throughout the season and has improved his passing game, but still has only thrown for 250-plus yards twice. He’ll have to surpass that number tonight, and the threat of a deep ball will have to be in play.
On the other side of the ball, it’ll be up to Manti Te’o and the Irish front seven to keep the backfield in check and put pressure on opposing quarterback A.J. McCarron. The world and its mom knows Alabama will run the ball, but the difference will be in the passing game – McCarron completed 68 percent of his passes for 234 yards in last year’s title appearance.
One last thing Brian Kelly will have to do is keep his offense on the field, which is easier said than done. Alabama gives up just 79.8 rushing yards per game (No. 1 overall), so it’s difficult to control the pace of the game and sustain offensive drives.
Keys to victory for the Crimson Tide: Unlike Notre Dame, this isn’t a new stage to Alabama – it has been here three times in four years. And every time, Nick Saban does the same thing: run the ball. While it’ll be a challenge (Notre Dame ranks No. 4 against the run), the Tide’s offensive line will open gaps for workhorses Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. The two 1,000-yard rushers are nothing the Irish’s defense has seen all season, and neither are the big boys up front.
A.J. McCarron has been the field general Alabama has needed all season. He’ll need to be just that in tonight’s matchup, managing the game and making smart decisions in the passing game. He’s thrown just three interceptions this season and will need to put up a zero in that category once again.
This one could go either way, but I’m sticking with what I’ve seen all year: Alabama needs to load the box and contain Everett Golson’s running lanes. This would obviously open up the intermediate and deep passing game, but I have yet to see Golson really spread the field with the ball – and I trust Dee Milliner and the Tide secondary enough to hold down the open space.
Prediction: It’s Alabama’s offensive line vs. Notre Dame’s front seven. Plain and simple. Whichever one wins the battle at the line of scrimmage wins the BCS National Championship.
Alabama has three offensive linemen (Chance Warmack, Barrett Jones and D.J. Fluker) that will likely be selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and all three will be huge in deciding the fate of tonight’s game. Notre Dame has an impressive defensive line of its own, with Louis Nix, Kapron Lewis-Moore and Stephen Tuitt, but they haven’t seen anything like the Tide o-line since Stanford in Week 7, and even that is a pretty slim comparison.
In addition, I’ll take Alabama’s defensive front over Notre Dame’s offensive line, too. There are mismatches all over that grid and I expect plenty of errors for the Irish big men against Nico Johnson, C.J. Mosley and DT Jesse Williams.
Alabama 27, Notre Dame 13 --- via Bowl Predictions