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  • Irish and Bama Set to Collide

    by John Vannie

    Most college football experts correctly assumed that Alabama would be in Miami on January 7th to play for the national championship, but literally no one believed the Crimson Tide’s opponent would be the University of Notre Dame. Despite a 12-0 record and number one ranking, there is still a lack of respect for the Fighting Irish among oddsmakers and pundits. Fortunately, none of these slights will matter at kickoff on Monday night, which is scheduled for approximately 8:30 PM EST at Sun Life Stadium.

    While the Tide is attempting to win its third title in the past four seasons, Notre Dame is returning to the big stage after a 24-year absence. No Irish player was alive when Lou Holtz’ team beat West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day in 1989. The program’s resurgence under Brian Kelly was not expected to occur this soon, and many questioned whether Notre Dame would ever climb back into this position. Good fortune has contributed to this turnaround season, and even skeptics are beginning to wonder whether the Irish are a team of destiny. The beauty of this matchup is not lost on ESPN, who is already anticipating the largest television audience in college football history.

    Despite the external hype, both teams are trying to keep a low profile with closed practices and predictably bland media sound bytes. The only story of note has been the status of Alabama’s All-American offensive lineman Barrett Jones, who has been kept on the sidelines due to an injured foot. That issue was resolved on Wednesday when Jones returned to practice, and his ability to play with pain has been well-documented during his impressive career.

    These teams have not played each other since 1987, and the most memorable game between them was at the Sugar Bowl for the national championship following the 1973 season. The Irish won that game in a mild upset by 24-23, and although Alabama fans have not forgotten it they are not unduly concerned this time around. Despite the mythology that once surrounded Notre Dame, the Southeastern Conference has emerged during the last decade as the preeminent football empire. This conference has produced the last six national champions, but Tide Coach Nick Saban is a notorious worry-wart who will not let his charges take the Irish lightly.

    Notre Dame may be playing with house money at this point in its dream season, but Kelly has adopted a “business trip” approach to the championship game. His players are an unusually cohesive unit and are quietly confident regarding their chances. It will be interesting to see whether they can maintain their poise early in the contest when the reality of the moment is upon them, especially when one considers that their opponent will feel right at home in this environment.

    NOTRE DAME’S OFFENSE vs. ALABAMA’S DEFENSE

    The Tide surrendered only 139 points in 13 games this season, but three quality opponents (LSU, Texas A&M and Georgia) averaged nearly 25 points against them. It’s not unthinkable to predict that the balanced Irish offense will score between 20 and 25 in this contest. The keys to success are the poise exhibited by quarterback Everett Golson and the effectiveness of Kelly’s play calling strategy in the red zone. Golson has demonstrated significant improvement during the course of the season after a deer-in-the-headlights start against Michigan in September. Kelly has struggled at times to get his team across the goal line with an over-reliance on empty backfield sets and fade passes, and he will have to do better while matching wits with an accomplished defensive strategist in Saban.

    Notre Dame has averaged 202 rush yards per game, but will find it difficult to make headway against Alabama’s deep and talented 3-4 alignment. Nose tackle Jesse Williams anchors the front line, and he was sorely missed when he sat out part of the SEC Championship against Georgia. Williams is flanked by ends Damion Square and Ed Stinson, with Quinton Dial in reserve. Leading tackler C. J. Mosely leads a large and agile linebacker corps, and he is not even and every down player. Mosely is particularly effective in pass coverage and shares time with the run-stuffing Nico Johnson. Trey DePriest is a strong presence in the middle while Adrian Hubbard leads the team in sacks and tackles for loss. Overall, this is a deep and impressive front seven with several future NFL players.

    The Irish will find it difficult to go right at this bunch as they shed blocks very well and are stout up the middle. Getting the ball outside and making Alabama defend in space may be the best option, and Golson has the ability to frustrate the Tide with scripted runs and improvised scrambles. Kelly will not want to expose him to multiple hard hits, however, so the game plan will largely be one in which Notre Dame spreads the field and looks to create favorable individual matchups. An up-tempo style may be employed by Kelly to keep Saban from situational substitutions if a particular alignment is generating positive momentum.

    Cornerback Dee Milliner leads a physical secondary that is well-coached and fundamentally sound. If the Irish are to have success through the air, cornerback Deion Belue appears to be the target of choice as teams generally avoid Milliner. Two hard-hitting safeties, Robert Lester and Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, are backed up by Nick Perry and Vinnie Sunseri. All play significant minutes, as does freshman nickel back Geno Smith. Again, the depth of the Crimson Tide defense is quite impressive.

    Notre Dame’s offensive line will face its most difficult challenge this season. They must create enough running lanes to keep the Tide honest and Golson from too many third and long situations. One thing the Irish have going for them is they have protected the quarterback quite well in the pocket and Alabama does not have a dominant pass rush. The problem is that opponents have not been able to get many folks open downfield against them. Notre Dame’s receivers need to run precise routes and Golson must get the ball out on time to be successful. The attack should benefit from the return of DaVaris Daniels to the lineup after a two month injury absence. “He’ll play a role and we hope it’s a significant role in what we do,” Kelly said.

    ALABAMA’S OFFENSE vs. NOTRE DAME’S DEFENSE

    The question on everyone’s mind is whether the Irish front seven can slow down Alabama’s powerful running game. Most experts believe they do not have the depth and stoutness to withstand the Tide’s massive offensive line and tandem of talented backs in Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. The matchup between Barrett Jones and Notre Dame’s nose tackle Louis Nix is critical. Nix has been able to occupy two blockers and allow Manti Te’o to make over 100 tackles this season, but that strategy won’t work if Jones can handle Nix and guards Antony Steen and Chance Warmack consistently get to the second level. The Irish may indeed have early success while the starters are fresh, but fatigue may prove to be an issue in the second half as Saban will continue to pound the ball even if he is behind on the scoreboard. The Tide was successful in this regard in coming from behind to defeat LSU and Georgia, and almost overcame a significant deficit against Texas A&M.

    Alabama’s offensive strategy is elegant in its simplicity. When opponents are forced to commit additional personnel to stop the run, quarterback A.J. McCarron will throw the deep ball to freshman standout Amari Cooper, or toss a screen pass to a running back who will be escorted downfield by an imposing convoy of blockers. The success of the plan is evident in McCarron’s 67% completion rate and 26 touchdown passes against only three interceptions.

    Cooper is an emerging star at wide receiver who got his chance when veteran Kenny Bell suffered a broken leg earlier this season. Kevin Norwood and Christion Jones are also in the mix, but Bell may not be ready to be a factor in this game. Saban often deploys a pair of tight ends to create a devastating set of blockers for Lacy and Yeldon. Michael Williams is a huge presence at 6’6” and 270 pounds who can also catch the ball, while Kelly Johnson usually lines up as an H-back and lead blocker. This running scheme often allows the backs to get several yards downfield before the defense can make contact, and consequently there are a more than a few missed tackles as both are powerful, compact runners who stay low.

    Disciplined pursuit and crisp tackling are essential for Notre Dame. The Tide will focus on blocking Te’o, so the rest of the linebackers must make stops while the linemen occupy potential blockers. This is a tall order, but essential in a game that will come down to strength against strength. The odds will tip in favor of the Irish if they can force McCarron to throw the ball more than planned. His arm is only average and he is visibly uncomfortable when pressured in the pocket. Alabama’s linemen are noticeably less adept at pass blocking than as road-graders in a downhill rushing attack, so they will stick to the run on third and long more frequently than most teams.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    Kelly made it clear that a lack of overall depth has impacted Notre Dame’s special teams this season, but he expressed a willingness to commit additional starters to his return and cover teams in this game. The Irish have capable return men in George Atkinson on kickoffs and Davonte Neal on punts, but their productivity has suffered from subpar blocking. Any additional resources Kelly can apply to this area will be a plus.

    Alabama has a pair of quality return men in Christion and Cyrus Jones. Christion has a 99-yard kickoff return for touchdown to his credit this year. The Tide’s cover teams are sound but not spectacular, so the Irish must try to gain every available yard of field position in this contest.

    Kyle Brindza has had a few rocky moments this season, but his performance against USC was solid and included a 52-yard blast right before halftime. Punter Ben Turk did not have a stellar year but will need to raise his game (and his kicks) to a higher level. Alabama’s Jeremy Shelley handles extra points and field goals under 40 yards, and has not missed a three-pointer all season. Cade Foster is a mediocre four of nine on long field goals, while Cody Mandell is definitely an above average punter.

    SUMMARY

    Alabama has accumulated a set of impressive if not overwhelming statistics. Their average margin of victory is 28 points and they have outgained teams by nearly 200 yards per game. The Tide converted 47% of third down chances while allowing opponents to be successful only 32% of the time. Saban’s defense has forced a three and out nearly 45% of the time. The numbers are much less dominant, however, against conference foes such as LSU and Texas A&M that are more similar to Notre Dame.

     If you are trying to gauge whether the Irish can be successful, you have to decide whether the SEC is truly head and shoulders above the rest of the college football world and such comparisons are invalid. Six consecutive national champions produced by the SEC and Saban’s emerging dynasty are certainly grounds for a high confidence level, but anyone who has watched the Irish this season knows they cannot be discounted.

    Detractors point to Notre Dame’s narrow escapes against BYU and Pittsburgh, but wins against PAC-12 champion Stanford, Big 12 co-champion Oklahoma and a talented USC team are significant by any measure. The Irish and particularly Golson improved steadily as the season progressed, and the team was particularly strong in the fourth quarter where the outcome was still in doubt.

    Simply put, Notre Dame needs to hold up physically for 60 minutes. While they will probably be outgained on the ground, the Irish cannot afford to surrender more than 200 yards. Conversely, they must be patient enough to stick with their own ground game so the play action pass can be effective. Although both teams protect the football very well, the team that forces its opponent out of its comfort zone will create turnovers and emerge with the national championship trophy.

    Here are a few questions that will have a bearing on the outcome:

    Will Notre Dame be emotionally prepared to get off to a solid start in the game?

    Can the Irish defenders tackle well enough to keep Lacy and Yeldon from breaking long runs?

    Will McCarron hurt Notre Dame with screens and deep play action passes?

    Which special teams will contribute a game-changing play?

    Will the Irish score touchdowns or be forced to settle for field goals?

    Can Alabama effectively neutralize Manti Te’o?

    Will Golson’s mobility be a difference maker for the Irish?

    Which team will have the most energy in the fourth quarter?

    PREDICTION

    The underdog Irish are not likely to shy away from a physical contest after outlasting Stanford and taking the best shot every week from a respectable and diverse group of opponents. Alabama will also relish a slugfest, but their vaunted defense had a tough time containing a talented dual-threat quarterback in Johnny Manziel. If Everett Golson can be efficient and make good decisions with the ball, Notre Dame will also do its share of damage. Six weeks of preparation under Kelly’s tutelage should translate into a solid performance for the first year signal caller, but they must figure out a way into the end zone when those precious few opportunities present themselves. Alabama’s sledgehammer attack will be at full throttle, but the gritty Irish defense will make enough plays to pull out one more heart-stopping victory in this incredible year of resurrection for Notre Dame football.

    NOTRE DAME 23  ALABAMA 20

    41 Responses to “Irish and Bama Set to Collide”

    1. Rontdtarchala says:

      I truly feel ND will win… But it will be the type of game that drives both sides fans crazy… We will take the ball away with under 2 minutes left and run the clock out!!! GOOO IRISH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. Great analysis as always. To me there are a couple of keys.

      1. Third down – Can ND stop Bama on some key 3rd and shorts to force punts and field goals? If Golson can keep the chains moving, Bama will wear down as they did against A&M. Those guys do not play a ton of snaps.

      2. Red Zone – As John mentioned, we will have a few precious drives that get into the red zone. If we kick field goals we will lose. We have to get 7. As for the D, if they force field goals we are right there.

      3. Turnovers – We need a turnover in the red zone by Bama or one that creates a short field for the offense. Along with that we need to a clean sheet.

      As Lou has said, will this be a Notre Dame moment where we all look back 20 years from now and remember this team the way we remember shutting down Earl Campbell, the Green Machine Game, or Miami ’88?

      Love the line from the movie “Miracle”- Great moments are born from great opportunity. That’s ND had Monday night.

      • Camarillo Brillo says:

        Lou Holtz would also say, “It doesn’t have to be close.”

        It probably will be, but I believe ND will win.

        And to paraphrase “Miracle,” “I’m TIRED of hearing about Alabama. Screw ‘em!!”

    3. Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

      Great analysis, as usual, Vannie.

      Over the course of the season, these were the things that stood out for me, and I believe will ultimately determine the Irish’s fate;

      1. Will Kelly’s play-calling be innovative and will the communication of plays to Golson be fast enough to give Golson time to audibilize? Early in the season, the communication of plays and the play-calling left a lot to be desired. As the season progressed, the play-calling sped up but when Golson has to look at the sidelines for 15-20 seconds to get the final call it’s very difficult to maintain a good pre-snap rythym. This problem will be amplified in a pressure cooker game like this. It would be also be nice to see GAIII get a few more rushing touches.

      2. Will Kelly continue pound the rock if the rushing game is working or will he, as he inexplicably did in the USC game, feel compelled to mix it up simply for the sake of mixing it up.

      3. Will Diaco dial up the pressure on passing downs or rely on a 3 or 4 man rush to generate pressure, which didn’t generate much pressure all season.

      At the end of the day, Irish win 31-24 in OT.

      • SubwayAlum_12 says:

        I disagree with the pressure comment. Nd had 33 sacks this year, and most came off of 4 man twists. Further, there were quite a few forced field goals as a result of 3rd down sacks (byu Pitt um etc). Agreed on the play calls inside the 5; I feel nd is big enough up front for inside zones as opposed to fades, look at the game winner against Pitt: simple and brutal. Aside from field position and turnovers, the biggest key will be limiting Bama’s yards after contact. A 7 yard catch is fine as long as it stays at 7 yards. Poor tackling hurt nd against Purdue and Pitt, just as much as great open field tackles won the MSU and um games. A tall order, given Lacys penchant for YAC, but if there was a team to force you to drive the field, it would be this one. If nd can flip the field in the punt game, because there will be many several punts, I think it will create opportunities to steal points on a short field, as well as limiting the yards post contact for lacy and yeldon, then this game will be won.
        ND: 16, Bama: 12 that’s right sports fans, 7 field goals, go brindza!
        And as always, GO IRISH!

    4. The Irish must keep the score no worse than 1 TD behind in the 4th quarter to keep the offense balanced and ‘Bama’s D guessing.
      What a great way to start the new year with the Lads back on top where they belong!

      GO IRISH!
      Dan

    5. martinjordan says:

      The “vaunted” SEC is only 3 and 3 so far in bowl games. Vandy beat NC State, LSU lost to Clemson, Mississippi State lost to Northwestern, Georgia struggled with Nebraska, South Carolina struggled with Michigan, and Florida was beaten by Louisville. Texas A&M plays Oklahoma tonight. ND beat the team that is playing the team that beat Alabama. The SEC defenses are good but the offenses aren’t very good. I don’t know if the defenses make the offenses look bad or if the offenses make the defenes look good.

      • Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

        I agree that the SEC is overrated, but under Saban, Bama’s been special in the big dance and Everett Golson’s highly unlikely to replicate Johnny Rotten’s performance against the Tide. Bama’s offense is special and probably slightly better than ND’s depending upon how healthy Daniels is coming off the injury. Against A&M, Bama lost primarily because of the Tide’s second half turnover’s and JFF’s refusal to blink in the key sitches. If Theo Riddick runs against Alabama like he did against the Boys of Troy, the Irish should be able to control time of possession such that Everett will only have to be a game manager, but for my money, this game comes down to whether Diaco can dial up the pressure on AJ McCarron in obvious passing sitches and whether the Irish can limit the Tide ground game on first down. Davonte Neal also scares me a little. He’s got speed to burn for sure, but he had few if any Rocket Ismail-type returns during the regular season and his judgment was, at times, very shaky on whether to catch the ball or let it go into the end zone. Were it me, I’d seriously consider letting GAIII or Riddick handle the punts as both are likely to be more sure handed.

    6. LA DOUBLE DOMER says:

      Minor correction: the 1989 Fiesta Bowl was on January 2nd not on New Years Day. GO IRISH !

    7. Freddy Krueger says:

      Manti has always been good at sniffing out those screen passes, let’s hope he still has that skill. AL backs need to be hit every play by swarm tackling. Little nervous, but don’t mind standing behind these guys at all. Almost time to shock the world.

    8. Golson is the key and of course turnovers. ND’s magical season comes to an end against the best team in college football. Bama wins 30-17.

      • GraceHallChapel86 says:

        No way ‘Bama scores 30 on Notre Dame. Absolutely no way.The Tide hasn’t faced a defense like this all season.

        It will be one team or another in a close slugfest.

        • That’s why they play the game. Hopefully I am wrong.

        • Jake Tober says:

          @GraceHallChapel86

          Keep dreaming of altar boys and repent/confess your sin of baring false witness on Bama. Scored 30 long before they finished y’all by a 28 pt. margin!

          Roll Tide Roll! Number 15–thanks flailing Irish of NoGame Notre Dame. Kiss the RINGS, bitches!

    9. Kevin Byrnes says:

      All I can say is that when I got in my car this evening to pick up some pizza, the initial flash on the dashboard looked like it said “MANTI REQUIRED.” (Thought again–MAINT REQUIRED.)

    10. Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

      All I can say is, I’m glad we’re playin’ Bama and not the Aggies. JFF was a beast tonight. Irish eyes have been smiling all season … and they’ll be smiling … once again Monday night … after the Tide gets rolled by the Irish … AGAIN. Go Irish!!!

    11. Ghost of Rockne says:

      NEVER bet against the Irish! Bring the sledgehammer for one more game and play like you belong there and all will be well! Play calling needs to replicate the Oklahoma game – keep it up tempo and dont be afraid to stretch the field. GO IRISH!

    12. No one can predict the outcome of this game. ND will either come out flat or they score 21 points in the first quarter. It’s all or nothing! The first 5 minutes of the game will tell the tale.

    13. Been some talk about results of bowl games puncturing the SEC’s aura of invincibility. I suppose that’s true to a certain extent, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. But there are two sides to that coin. I’m careful not to put too much stock in bowl game results because if we do then we’ll have to face the reality that ND’s opponents didn’t fare so well either. 4 teams that ND had to play 4 quarters to beat (Purdue, Oklahoma, Pitt, and USC) got absolutely demolished in their bowl games. Stanford is happy with their win but I don’t think a narrow win over the 5th best Big 10 team does anything to make ND’s resume look more impressive than it looked previously. On the whole, Alabama’s opponents still had a better bowl season than ND’s did. Just sayin’.

    14. As an Irish fan living in SEC country, let me say that there are few giving ND much of a shot down my way. The other Irish fans I’ve spoken with seem to be taking a LOT of solace in the SECs “down” performance in bowl games, and though I agree that the SEC’s usual dominance (and that’s what it is, all you “myth of the SEC” conspiracy theorists) hasn’t shown up this year in quite the same way, Alabama is still a heck of a team. Don’t read to much into other teams’ performances (whether SEC squads or Notre Dame’s bowl-bound opponents). That stuff rarely bears any real fruit as far as analysis and predictions go.

      That said, I think if these two teams played ten times, they’d split the series 5 and 5, so it’ll be a tight game, at least for three quarters. The Irish may even have to come back from a deficit (no strangers to that, thankfully), but on this particular Monday I’m going Irish 23 – 17 Bama.

      It’s been a crazy, great season: http://thethingaboutflying.com/2013/01/05/mea-culpa-my-secret-season-with-the-fighting-irish/

    15. For first Irish offensive series, Kelly needs to call running plays to allow Golson to settle into his remarkably relaxed mode of play. Everett has the rare gift of poise under pressure once he sheds he initial butterflies, so Kelly should avoid his tendency to open with pass plays that seem to unnerve Golson. ND running attack is solid, and will surprise Alabama with its power. Irish run game should also keep its D off the field for majority of first half, thus rested for Bama’s second half assault.

      Overlooked in analysis is fact that Irish surely have one of the best back-up QBs in college. And one far better than the Vikings. If Everett is battered, the much maligned Tommy R should perform in his stoic, almost robotic fashion late in the game.

      ND 27 Ala 17

    16. irishhawk50 says:

      I think the Irish match up well against Alabama. I think they will be in the game and can win it. I saw Louisville make a joke out of Florida’s vaunted defense even though they were a huge underdog. Anything is possible in football,especially college football. I really like ND’s chances no matter what Las Vegas says. Go Irish!

    17. No costly penelties !! Holding,false starts,late hits on QB and OofB. We cant start 1st and 15 or 20 on this defence. Must score TD’s in RED ZONE !! These 2 areas have plagued us all season. Poise..patients..execution and Our Lady … we will have NC #12 !!!

      Our Lady of Victory Pray for us.

    18. I would feel better if A&M would not have mauled–really toyed with–OU. Given the huge layoff, bowl games really are another season. Who will come to play? AL has a big advantage here I’m afraid, given their experience the last few years. I’m only concerned that the outcome will somehow tarnish the team’s unimagineable accomplishments. Who could seen this coming? I take heart from the optimists and keep my fingers crossed. GO IRISH!

    19. NDBonecrusher says:

      Ccb, ND BETTER surprise on offense to have a shot, and they better out-physical those big SEC guys in the 4th quarter on both sides of the ball. This is not going to be subtle. This is going to be Steelers-Ravens-esque. I don’t think either team is going to hang 5 TD’s on the other and there will be no relaxing till the final whistle. Get the Pepto and Nitro ready, sports fans.

      We all know how good Bama is,but I don’t think anybody really knows how good ND is. We have yet to see their best game, which we will see tomorrow night. Golson will play out of his mind and Notre Dame will win.

      • Unfortunately, Alabama is showing us how bad ND is on this given night. It’s too painful to watch.

      • Jake Tober says:

        @BoneCrusher: your analysis was so off, I wonder if you even watch FBS. Try 6 TDs. Golson, and more-so Te’o, looked like the overrated chumps y’all are. Thanks for ruining this NC. Could have been a good game if we’d have played Oregon or a truly deserving team instead of some powder puffs like the flailing irish of nogame notre dame.

    20. I think part of what is not being discussed anywhere is defense scheme. I think we schemed on D as well as anyone in the counrty this year. We faced a much more diverse range of opponents than anyone else and always had a good gameplan. We took away something from everyone and expect we will do the same against Bama. We were really only hurt once all season against the run and that was Pitt. I think Graham is exceptional and has change of direction like no one else. We shut big backs down and i think we will do the same tomorrow. Keys for D will be controlling run on first down and getting pressure on third.

      I think we are being vastly underestimated on offense. We were very effecient after the Miami game. We converted 3rd at an incredible rate against our last several foes. Keeping Bama off balance will be key but Kelly has called some excellent games this year including MSU and OU. All the talk is about their OL like ours sucks but we have 3 or 4 future NFL guys on our line and they have played together all season. Once Golic stopped making mental errors and the zone run blocking clicked in after thre bye week we were solid. In the end it will come down to execution. We had several icredibly good executing games this year including Navy, Miami, OU, WF…….just remember OU no turnover and no penalties. We are capable of it……meanwhile Bama struggled quite a bit in big games.

      My biggest fear is we cant match their intensity early if that happens we lose…we saw it with FL and have seen it in the past……in about 24 hours we will all know and lets try to remember no matter what this was a great season….we are returning about 14 starters next year and getting thisfar gave our recruiting a huge boost. Kelly said this week the bar is raised and given the look of it I think we will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come…..once again WE ARE ND!!!

    21. Jack McGee says:

      Of course, it’s just celluloid fantasy, but it’s our myth and we love it.

      So: “Someday, when the team’s up against it, and the breaks are beatin the boys; Tell ‘em to go out there , give it everything they’ve got and win one for the Gipper.”

      • Bamaforever says:

        Alabama manhandled Michigan in a 41-16 rout on Sept. 1. Three weeks later, Notre Dame benefited from six Michigan turnovers to pull out a 13-6 win over the Wolverines.

        The Crimson Tide led Michigan, 31-0, in the second quarter and finished with 199 yards rushing and 5.5 yards per carry. Quarterback A.J. McCarron passed for 199 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in the season-opening win at Cowboys Stadium.

        In its hard-fought victory over Michigan in South Bend, the Irish led, 10-3, midway through the fourth quarter. Notre Dame managed just 94 yards on the ground, averaging 3.0 yards per carry. Quarterback Everett Golson threw two interceptions in eight attempts, before being replaced by Tommy Rees in the second quarter.

        “Nuff Said.

    22. My son has the Irish flag up in Afganistan! Great day for the Irish. Win another for the Gipper!! Go Irish!!!

    23. IrishJMike says:

      One major factor makes me think the Irish will find a way to win tonight. The purveyors of conventional wisdom all say “”Bama is s sure thing.” Bama by 9. Bama has been here, done that. They are accustomed to the big, brightly lit stage. They are the tough guys. Sounds a bit like the 92 Sugar Bowl. Nobody every went broke betting against conventional wisdom. If Notre Dame shuts down the Tide running game, they win. That simple. Notre Dame 24 – Alabama 14. ND wins the turnover battle 3-1. You’ll see.

    24. I texted fellow ’95 alum last night that I thought it would be a 23-20 ND victory. Then I read this article. Nothing else needs to be said.

    25. SwissRoger says:

      Hmm I am not sure if we’re already as god as it should be to beat Bama… but at least our faith, hope, prayers, and patience will be honered this time… playing for the NC… who really thought about it 5 months ago?

      So: let us enjoy this season and especially this game… I really do not expect a win, but did I expect a 12-0 season? I am ready for every surprise as I have been after MSU, SU, Pitt (the last 2 min.), OU, BYU, and also USC…. GO IRISH!
      Is there a chance to see the game on Internet…? In Switzerland we do not have access to ESPN…

    26. IRISH roll the Tide
      Irish 31 Tide 20

    27. Ghost of Rockne says:

      Its a disgrace simply because the Irish are NOT playing to their potential! UNEXCUSABLE!!!! BK HEAR ME? UNEXCUSABLE!

    28. this games first half :

      how to go from PROUD to EMBARRASSED in less than 60 minutes

    29. Ghost of Rockne says:

      No committment to the run set this game up for failure – plain and simple Alabama wanted to reduce ND to a one dimensional team and they succeeded compliments of the Irish lack of play calling! So sad – so very sad.
      ND never showed up! 40 days prep and they never showed up. Makes an otherwise tremendous season – unforgettable – very unforgetable.

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