Eddie Lacy opened the scoring with 20-yard run on Alabama's first series and it was only the third rushing touchdown allowed by the Irish all season. Alabama kept running over the Irish on the left side. The Tide converted several third-and-ones on its first two series and holes were unbelievable. Alabama spent a lot of time double-teaming linebacker Manti Te’o and having backs bust into the secondary. T.J. Yeldon’s run for first down on third-and-three before the half was a thing of beauty.
It’s hard to tell if Notre Dave gave up on the ground before the game started. The Irish came out passing and seemed only to hand off the ball as an afterthought. First big gain was Theo Riddick’s burst up the middle for 20 yards in the second quarter to get the Irish out of a deep hole in their own territory. But other than that, Notre Dame found rushing the ball to be a losing proposition.
Quarterback AJ McCarron opened the passing attack when the Irish put nine in the box on the first series and hit Kevin Norwood for 29 yards. Marvin Shinn, not exactly a household name for the Tide this season, converted a third down with a seven-yard reception on the team’s second touchdown. McCarron hit Christion Jones with a big 27-yarder to set up another score before halftime on Lacy’s spin move and Amari Cooper for 34-yard score to cap off a 97-yard drive in the third quarter.
Deion Belue knocked away a fourth-and-five attempt when Irish made their first visit into Alabama territory. He received a lot of attention from Everett Golson, but the Notre Dame quarterback never gained much traction against the Tide’s supposed weakness in the secondary. Alabama’s defensive front also did a good job of keeping Golson in the pocket and not allowing him to find many open receivers on the run. HaHa Clinton-Dix intercepted a pass on the first series of the second half on a tipped ball.
Cade Foster booted a touchback after the team’s opening score and in the fourth quarter. Jones needs some work mastering his punt returning skills. Jones got fortunate with a bobble when a penalty was called on Notre Dame for interference in the first quarter. Landon Collins made a great tackle on a punt to pin the Irish on the 4-yard line. Jeremy Shelley was perfect on all six of his PAT attempts as usual.
Nick Saban always seems to work well with a long layoff. The funny thing is Alabama didn’t do much different than it has all season. The Tide pounded the ball behind their stout offensive line and used McCarron to push the ball down field with play action. On defense, the Tide kept Golson in the pocket and that took away his primary strength to make plays. Alabama won the physical battle on both lines.
Alabama posted back-to-back BCS championship game blowouts in incredible fashion. It just gave college football fans even more reason to hate Alabama and the SEC – while Tide fans soak it all in as the reigning king of the sport in the conference with seven straight titles. Start to finish, it was Alabama’s best performance of the season.
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