College football's two most storied programs will meet when the Fighting Irish square off against the Crimson Tide.
The No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish will try to return to glory, and the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide will attempt to cement themselves as a modern dynasty when the Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide meet in the BCS Championship Game at Miami's Sun Life Stadium Monday night.
The Fighting Irish (12-0) offense has struggled at times this season as sophomore quarterback Everett Golson has experienced growing pains. But in Notre Dame's final four games, Golson has been solid, completing 60.7 percent of his passes for 990 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te'o had been a leader at linebacker, compiling 103 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, seven interceptions, four pass breakups, four quarterback hurries and one fumble recovery.
In what is expected to be a defensive struggle, Eric Murtaugh of One Foot Down says Notre Dame must find a way to come up with big plays on offense:
Notre Dame is going to need some plays like this Alabama if they are to win the crystal ball. Like the Irish defense, Alabama is going to bet Notre Dame can't string together long sustained drives and put points on the board, so picking up some chunk plays will be imperative.
Alabama (12-1) has been a defensive juggernaut for much of the season, but it had to rely on offensive rallies to pull out victories at LSU and against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. Against Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide defense faltered early, and the offense couldn't come back far enough in a 29-24 defeat at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
While the Alabama defense usually excelled as a group, the Crimson Tide offense was led by the passing of A.J. McCarron and the running of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. McCarron completed 66.8 percent of his passes for 2,669 yards, 26 touchdowns and three interceptions in the regular season, and Lacy and Yeldon combined for 2,182 yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground.
As noted above, he is really the only Notre Dame linebacker that plays nearly every down, which is enabled by his ability to drop into pass coverage and play at a high level in that capacity, which is a rare capability for a 255-pound middle linebacker who is also excellent stuffing the run. This versatility is what makes him such a coveted player on the next level. At any rate, it's clear that Alabama's offense will have to go around, or through, one of the best linebackers in college football roaming the middle of the Notre Dame defense.
Game date and time
Jan. 7, 8 p.m. ET
Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Fla.
ESPN Radio, SiriusXM 84
Last year’s game
Alabama 21, LSU 0
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