MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — An unusually insightful halftime interview with Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly sums it up for how good Alabama and its fans must be feeling right now.
Trailing 28-0 on Monday night, Kelly was asked what can you do in the second half?
His answer: Maybe Alabama won’t come back out.
He probably didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Here was his No. 1 and undefeated team looking like Western Carolina playing in Tuscaloosa.
People were critical of Alabama being a 10-point favorite.
Apparently, it should have been much more — as the final score of 42-14 indicates.
Many national pundits stated Notre Dame’s case because of its rugged schedule, but the sad part for Irish fans is that this year’s team would have likely finished fifth or worse in the SEC.
There was never any doubt from the opening kick on after running back Eddie Lacy’s 20-yard run for the game’s first touchdown — only the third rushing touchdown against Notre Dame this season.
Alabama seemed to run every play in the first half to the left side and Notre Dame had no answer. Heisman Trophy runner-up Manti Te’o looked like an afterthought who didn’t figure into many plays.
Probably the only disappointment for Alabama was seeing its incredible BCS shutout streak come to an end in the third quarter when Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson scored on a two-yard run.
Looking at the list of Alabama accomplishments with this victory is almost tough to comprehend.
Alabama became the first school in the BCS era to win back-to-back national championships.
With its third national title in four years, Alabama joins Nebraska (1994-97) and Notre Dame (1946-49) in that elite group.
Prior to this game, Alabama coach Nick Saban refused to allow anyone to answer the dynasty question.
He doesn’t have to answer it now. The Crimson Tide did that without saying a word.
“If that’s what you guys want to call us,” fifth-year senior Robert Lester said. “I’m fine with that.”
Senior center Barrett Jones said he wouldn’t talk about a Crimson Tide dynasty before the game, but he can now. His career — one of the most decorated in school history — is now over.
“I’m very honored,” Jones said. “I’ve played on some amazing teams with some great coaches and it’s hard not to say we’ve got the best program in the country. We’ve got a little dynasty going.”
Two examples were evident in how Jones played his part in making that happen.
First, he played Monday with a Lisfranc injury suffered in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia. The injury often takes six weeks to heal in a cast. He received a pain killer prior to the game.
“There was no way I wasn’t playing in this game,” Jones said.
Second, with Alabama up 42-14 in the fourth quarter Jones ended up shoving his quarterback AJ McCarron after a delay of game penalty. Needless to say, even with that score, both players are a little intense.
“We’re both perfectionists,” Jones said. “He’s an emotional guy and we had a snap count difference and I was right. But we love each other and we gave each other a big hug; that’s how we are.”
Jones also received something he thought he never would — a heartfelt hug from coach Nick Saban.
“We didn’t want to hit him with the Gatorade,” Jones said. “We screwed that up a couple of years ago and he got mad. … I’m not really an emotional guy but everything we’ve been able to accomplish this last five years it was one of the first genuine bear hugs I ever got from him.”
Alabama’s 2012 senior class has won 49 games over the past four seasons and has lost only five games. The 49 wins ties for the most in college football history with Nebraska’s 1997 class that finished 49-2.
Saban became the only active coach to win four BCS championships — and his three with the Tide bring him to the halfway point of catching the legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant’s six national titles in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama won its 10th Associated Press national title (the school claims 15 titles) and settled a little score with Notre Dame by picking up only its second win in the series against five losses.
The national title was the Southeastern Conference’s seventh straight and one could argue the top two teams in the nation heading into the offseason are the Tide and Texas A&M — the only team to defeat Alabama this season.
They are set to square off Sept. 14 in College Station, Texas. That could go a long way to deciding the SEC West … and which team gets another crack on the national stage come next January.
“It means a lot,” said freshman receiver Amari Cooper, who caught six passes for 105 yards and two touchowns. “Not that many teams have done that (won three titles in four years) but we have to keep trying to win more. I know I’m going to keep trying to win more. My time is not done yet.”
It appears Alabama’s won’t be any time soon either.
|High School Sports||@DecaturPreps|