Jan. 7, 2013
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Unbeaten and top-rated Notre Dame’s first crack at a Bowl Championship Series title game didn’t exactly end the way the Irish hoped. But credit second-ranked and once-beaten Alabama, a veteran at these kinds of games, for making all the right moves in a 42-14 victory at Sun Life Stadium that handed the Tide its third BCS crown in four seasons.
It started on a tough note for the Irish (12-1), as Alabama (13-1) roared out of the gate to a 28-0 halftime lead after scoring on its first three possessions and rolling up 202 yards in the first period alone.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, struggled early on both sides of the ball. By halftime the Irish had already given up more points than they had in any game this season, the previous high being 26 in a triple-overtime win over Pittsburgh. The most yards Notre Dame gave up this season was 379; Alabama cracked the 500 mark early in the fourth quarter.
Alabama looked the part of a BCS champion–while the Irish walked away understanding what it takes to make it this far and maybe appreciating what the Tide was able to do to carry off the final chapter.
Notre Dame arrived at the title game on the cusp of what would have been a fantasy scenario, that of being unranked at the start of the season and the undisputed champions at the end of the campaign. However, a dominating ground game and timely passing by Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron made the Tide offense seemingly impossible to stop in the opening two periods.
Eddie Lacy ran for 140 yards on 20 attempts (one TD) and T.J. Yeldon added another 108 yards and a score of his own on 21 attempts. McCarron always seemed to make the right plays in the passing game, connecting on 20 of his 28 throws for 264 yards and four TDs.
The Irish had hoped to establish at least some sort of ground game against the top-rated Tide defense–but that proved to be almost impossible. The Irish managed only 32 net rushing yards (37 on 10 carries by Theo Riddick), as they were forced to throw the football as the Tide built its advantage.
Notre Dame’s Everett Golson threw for 270 yards and a score (a six-yard TD to Riddick), but his 21-for-36 effort came as the Irish played from the back all night long. TJ Jones had a career-high seven receptions (90 yards), and DaVaris Daniels contributed six grabs for a career-best 115 yards–while tight end Tyler Eifert had six for 61 yards.
Senior safety Zeke Motta led both teams with 16 tackles, and all-star senior linebacker Manti Te’o had 10. But Alabama simply proved hard to stop in rolling up a 529-302 advantage in total yards–including a 265-32 advantage on the ground. The Irish weren’t helped by losing senior defensive captain Kapron Lewis-Moore to a first-half knee injury–with nose guard Louis Nix III limping much of the second half.
The Irish had only a single turnover (an interception by Alabama on the opening series of the second half). But Notre Dame’s defense uncharacteristically could not get off the field, yielding TD drives of 82, 61, 80, 71, 97 and 86 yards–as Alabama finished with a 38:13 to 21:47 in time of possession.
Notre Dame’s bid for a 12th consensus national title ended a step short, but coach Brian Kelly expects 15 returning starters to be able to show the way in 2013 as the Irish bid to make BCS-caliber games regular postseason stopping points.