by John Vannie
Alabama won its third national title in the last four years on Monday night with a convincing and thorough defeat of Notre Dame by the score of 42-14. The Crimson Tide raced to a 28-0 halftime lead behind a powerful running game and the crisp passes of quarterback A. J. McCarron that shredded the Irish secondary. It was a tough loss for previously undefeated Notre Dame, whose return to prominence this season took a step backward as Alabama physically dominated the contest from start to finish.
The Notre Dame defense, which had been heroic all season, could not hold the edge against the Alabama running game. They also failed to pressure McCarron, who had an easy time picking apart the soft zone employed by the Irish back seven. Sadly, outgoing senior end Kapron Lewis-Moore suffered a significant knee injury in the second quarter.
Offensively, quarrterback Everett Golson and wide receiver DaVaris Daniels played well, but te offensive line could not generate any running room against the Tide’s stout defenders.
Update 1/8/2013: Sorry for the short summary above, but the game ended very late and traffic out of the stadium was horrible. As I sit here in the Miami Airport, here are the answers to the pregame questions:
Will Notre Dame be emotionally prepared to get off to a solid start in the game? No, the Irish were clearly not ready to play a game of this magnitude.
Can the Irish defenders tackle well enough to keep Lacy and Yeldon from breaking long runs? Not at all. The Irish were actually in position to make many tackles for limited yardage, but were not physically up to it.
Will McCarron hurt Notre Dame with screens and deep play action passes? The Irish handled the screens fairly well, but the deep and intermediate passes were wide open all night. McCarron had enough time in the pocket to wave to his hot girlfriend in the stands.
Which special teams will contribute a game-changing play? Almost, but the referees didn’t see it that way. Later in the game, the Irish special teams grew progressively worse.
Will the Irish score touchdowns or be forced to settle for field goals? Notre Dame scored touchdowns, but few people were still awake to see them.
Can Alabama effectively neutralize Manti Te’o? Manti Who?
Will Golson’s mobility be a difference maker for the Irish? Alabama’s puirsuit made even Golson look slow. He did manage to escape long enough to throw the ball away on a few occasions.
Which team will have the most energy in the fourth quarter? Saban was still coaching like a madman in the fourth quarter, but the most energy displayed during the period was the fight between McCarron and center Barrett Jones.
Thanks to the Irish for a great season and many more good memories than bad. Now, go and hit the weight room in the offseason, boys.