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January 7, 2013
Richmond High School


Troy Derengowski

I must admit before I started previewing the National Championship that I wanted Alabama to beat Notre Dame.   There are two reasons.  One: I am a Michigan fan and Michigan fans can’t cheer for the Irish.  Two: I believe Alabama is a better football team overall than Notre Dame.

Notre Dame is attempting to return to glory and Alabama will be playing for its third national title in the last four years, hoping to become the first team since the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the early 1990s to complete that feat.

Alabama was almost left on the outside looking in on this game, as they began the season with nine straight wins, before losing in November to Texas A&M 29-24.   However, teams in front of Bama faltered down the stretch, while the Tide took care of its business the rest of the way, including beating Georgia in the SEC Championship Game 32-28.

As for Notre Dame, Brian Kelly has transformed this program. Kelly lead Cincinnati to an undefeated regular season in his third year in 2009 and he has done it again in South Bend.   The Fighting Irish are the number one team heading into the championship game at 12-0, beating four top-25 foes. By the way, the Irish are the first team in the BCS era to play for a national championship after starting the season unranked.

Alabama and Notre Dame have met six times in their storied histories, with Notre Dame claiming victory in five of those games. They haven't met since 1987. The most famous clash took place in the 1973 Sugar Bowl, “The Game of the Century”, when 3# Notre Dame edged out #1 Alabama, 24-23.

Alabama’s numbers are impressive.  The offense was outstanding this season thanks to a dominant offensive line and two great running backs. Alabama finished up averaging 38.5 ppg, while gaining over 200 yards both on the ground (224.6 ypg) and through the air (214.5 ypg). Bama was also able to finish as the top red-zone offense in the nation, scoring 89 percent of the time, including touchdowns in 41-of-57 tries. QB A.J. McCarron completed 67% of his passes, for 2,669 yards, with 26 touchdowns and just three picks.

As good as the offense has been this season, defense has been the key in Tuscaloosa this season. Alabama ranked second nationally in points allowed (10.7 ppg), first in rush defense (79.8 ypg), fourth in pass defense (166.2 ypg) and first in total defense (246.0 ypg).

As for the Irish, they haven’t put up big scoring totals this year at 26.8 ppg, but they have a balanced attack, averaging over 200 yards both rushing (202.5 ypg) and passing (218.8 ypg).

Sophomore QB Everett Golson has completed 58.9 percent of his passes, for 2,135 yards, with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions, but his athleticism allows him to make something out of nothing.

Golson has weapons in Mackey Award winning TE Tyler Eifert (44 receptions, 624 yards, four TDs) and WR T.J. Jones (43 receptions, 559 yards, four TDs).

Notre Dame has had its greatest success on defensive.  Notre Dame ranks first in the nation in points allowed (10.3 ppg) as well as red-zone defense, limiting foes to just eight touchdowns in 33 attempts this year.

The Irish are led by unanimous All-American Manti Te'o in the middle. The senior linebacker was not only the Heisman runner-up, but captured the Butkus Award, Lombardi Award, Nagurski Award, Bednarik Award, Maxwell Award, Lott Trophy and the Walter Camp Player of the Year.  Some feel he is the next Ray Lewis in the NFL.

There are plenty of other stars on defense.  Sophomore DE Stephon Tuitt picked up All-American honors amassing 42 tackles and team-highs in both tackles for loss (13.0) and sacks (12.0). Others that will play vital roles on this unit include fellow DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (39 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 6.0 sacks), NT Louis Nix III (45 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks) and LB Prince Shembo (48 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks). The secondary is anchored by CB Bennett Jackson (61 tackles, four INTs) and S Zeke Motta (61 tackles, one fumble recovery).

So this should be a very good National Championship game with all the stars and excellent football players.  My prediction is Alabama has a better defense than Notre Dame and I like Bama’s two runningbacks.   Alabama  24   Notre Dame  17.









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