In the past couple years, NCAA Football has been plagued by its inability to justify why only two teams have the right to contend for the National Championship. Controversy swirled over the BCS and its flawed seeding system, as it seemed there was no better way to decide a national champion than to structure playoff brackets.
But wait! In chime the concerned parents and coaches, worried that subjecting their young men to a grueling set of match-ups before crowning them America’s champions would be detrimental to their health. Well, congrats sports fans, Moms, Dads, and backup water boys, the 2012/2013 college football season finally produced a match-up everyone can agree upon.
Demeaning critiques and harsh backlash about the BCS’ current bowl system have been cast aside. This year, there is no uproar from ranked teams #3 through #10. Analysts can finally talk about the game, while critics of the traditional BCS ranking system sit twiddling their thumbs. It will be a cold-hearted, defensive-first bloodbath down in Miami.
#1 ranked Notre Dame and its stout defense, led by Maxwell Award winner and Heisman Trophy runner up Manti Te’o, will clash with southern powerhouse #2 Alabama, in what is surely the most hyped national championship since Vince Young (Texas) squared up against Reggie Bush and USC. But before getting to the match-up, it’s worth comparing the two programs past couple decades.
It’s been a while since Irish fans saw their beloved gold and green play for something worth mentioning, and even longer since they tuned into the National Championship back in 1988. There was a day when a guy named Rudy would have done anything to put on an Irish jersey… it was over twenty years ago. Since then, he would have been better served playing his college ball with a sub-.500 winning percentage Pac-10 team.
On the other hand, Alabama has enjoyed immense success. Under the likes of Nick Saban, they have been a national championship contender nearly every season. The defending national champions, it will be worth watching how mature and veteran-like Alabama players appear as they take the field… that’s if they don’t start downing drinks and gobbling up girls the week leading up to the game.
One of the world’s most popular night clubs is in the basement of the hotel Alabama is staying. I’m not talking your local bar graced by the presence of a bus of cheerleaders here. I mean night club like celebrity-packed, DJ-laden, tops off, blinding lights, manage to separate from your Siamese twin night club. So, Mr. Saban, do you have full control over your team?
NFL career vs. a few nights of unparalleled euphoria… let’s let the kids decide. Anyway, now that that’s covered, we can move on to the game.
Both defenses allowed on average just above ten points per game, astounding figures given the offense-first approach taken by most NCAA teams in this era. Notre Dame’s 12-0 finish and run to the championship were aided by losses from then #1 and #2 teams Oregon and Kansas State.
It was the only way the Irish would secure that top ranked seed after Alabama’s upset loss to Texas A&M on November 10th moved them out of the top spot. Had Oregon or Kansas State won, however, the now undefeated Irish would be the one’s harassing the BCS bowl committee.
When you look at opponents, Notre Dame had a much milder schedule, but still had to pull out overtime wins against #17 Stanford and Pittsburgh to remain unbeaten. ‘Bama had to muscle through tough SEC competition all year, and managed to hold off Georgia in the SEC championship game. Records aside, the game will not be a match-up between two prolific scoring teams.
There isn’t a bunch of star athletes dictating the pace of play on this day. Instead, there will be no rhythm, no play-calling string that methodically stifles defensive efforts. There will be no yielding that extra yard, or surgically crafting openings for running lanes. All night, it will be ground and pound, nose-to-nose, hard hitting action.
No one player will find a way to take over the game for an extended period of time. Rather, the victor will be the squad that goes in unified, and comes out a brotherhood.
Sadly for Notre Dame fans, the Crimson Tide play in the SEC, which has essentially become a sub-division of the NFL. Given the vast number of experienced players and a more balanced offensive attack, Alabama will pull emerge as the National Champions.
Alabama 17 Notre Dame 10
Rob Dick | Elite.
Photo Credit: Getty IMages