No Luck for Irish Against Alabama

By Justine Hendricks
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports


The Notre Dame Fighting Irish didn’t show much fight in the Discover BCS Championship Game – but that shouldn’t come as surprise to anyone who watched the Irish this season.

Notre Dame’s undefeated run towards destiny came to a screeching halt early in the BCS Championship Game when the Crimson Tide rolled to a 42-14 victory.

According to the rankings, it was a No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-up, but it sure didn’t look like it on the field. Rather than a low-scoring defensive struggle, the game was as good as over by the second quarter as the Alabama offense had its way with the Irish.

Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, the title game MVP, rushed for 140 yards against a defense that was second in the nation against the run, and junior quarterback A.J. McCarron completed 20-of-28 passes, including four touchdowns. (He also became the envy of men across the nation thanks to ESPN’s frequent shots of his Miss Alabama girlfriend watching in the stands.)

The pundits who got swept up in Notre Dame’s sudden return to relevance and said Notre Dame would be dangerous with 30 days to prepare obviously didn’t take Alabama‘s equally long prep time into consideration. By this point, even casual college football fans know better than to bet against Nick Saban in a national title game.

And those who thought Everett Golson would be the X-factor, some going so far as to compare him to Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, were sorely mistaken.

Golson, a redshirt freshman like Manziel and Oregon‘s Marcus Mariota, played fairly well against Alabama, but he still isn’t a game-changer like those other talented young players. He was one of just four quarterbacks to throw for more than 250 yards against the Tide this season, but the Irish couldn’t manufacture any other offense, gaining just 32 yards on the ground.

All year, luck seemed to be with the Irish. Twelve consecutive wins – but many of them were close. An overtime win over Stanford was one video replay away from a loss. The team needed three overtimes to beat a Pittsburgh team that finished the year with a 6-7 record after losing to Ole Miss in a bowl. Notre Dame’s biggest wins were over Navy, Miami, Wake Forest, and Boston College, which bodes well for the Irish’s prospects when the team plays an increased ACC schedule but was poor preparation for facing the reigning National Champions.

While Notre Dame frequently found itself in close games and managed to win, LSU and Texas A&M were the only two teams able to keep up with Alabama this season – and the Aggies, led by Manziel, handed the Tide its only loss.

In nearly every game, the Crimson Tide dominated, while the Irish had to fight through most of their schedule, never truly looking like the nation’s best team.

That was essentially what happened in the championship: Alabama dominated, and the Irish didn’t look like they belonged on the same field.

The Tide didn’t stay No. 1 from wire to wire, but on Monday night, Alabama proved that its high ranking throughout the season was valid, and Notre Dame, which made a remarkable (and remarkably unexpected) run at the title, found out that destiny is no match for a talented, disciplined, Saban-coached squad.

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