The 2013 National Championship Game isn’t quite officially set at this point, but on Sunday night when the final BCS rankings come out, we will see that the No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish will be taking on the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide in a battle of the two teams that really have been the best in the nation this year.
The Fighting Irish have already known for a week that they are going to be headed to South Beach for the title game. They played the toughest schedule in the country, including playing 10 teams that were bowl eligible this year. An 11th, the Miami Hurricanes, won the ACC Coastal Division this year but deemed themselves ineligible with pending problems coming from the NCAA.
The Golden Domers are going to be bringing a heck of a defense into this game, including a Heisman Trophy projected finalist linebacker in LB Manti Te’o. Te’o is one of the best linebackers that you’ll see at the collegiate level, and he is also the emotional leader of this club. The team, in spite of that awesome schedule, allowed just 286.8 yards and 10.3 points per game. Only the Pitt Panthers, probably one of the worst teams on the slate this year, scored more than 17 points against the Fighting Irish this year.
Notre Dame’s offense hasn’t really had many remarkable games, scoring just 26.8 points per game, but the unit has come up big when it has needed to with the combination of QB Everett Golson and QB Tommy Rees. The team hasn’t scored more than 38 in a game since October 6th, but it has consistently scored in the at least the 20s against all but one foe along the way since that point.
All year long, Alabama was one of the favorites to win the BCS National Championship, and that is no exception here in Miami. The Tide knew that they needed some help over the course of the end of the season to get into the title game, but the losses by the Kansas State Wildcats and Oregon Ducks opened up the door for the top team in the SEC to get back into the fray. There is no doubt that the Crimson Tide played their way into the fold though, as they played against four teams that were at one point this year ranked in the Top 10 in America, including knocking off the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game in a wild clash.
Though the defense did show some cracks this year, the Tide still ranked No. 1 in the land in total defense at 246.0 yards per game. It’s just impossible to either run or throw against this team, as Alabama ranks sixth in the country in pass defense (166.2 YPG) and first in rushing (79.8 YPG). The end result is just 10.7 points per game allowed on the campaign, though 57 of the team’s 139 points allowed this year were conceded to the Bulldogs in Atlanta and the Texas A&M Aggies in the lone loss of the season.
Alabama is going to run, run, and run some more with RB Eddie Lacy and RB TJ Yeldon. These two men combined for 2,188 yards this year to go with 27 touchdowns. The passing game isn’t inept, though. QB AJ McCarron threw for 2,669 yards with 26 TDs against three picks, and his top receiver, WR Amari Cooper had 53 catches, 895 yards, and nine scores, including the touchdown that won the SEC for the team.
These two teams have only met six times in their history, but there hasn’t been a meeting since 1987. Notre Dame dominated the most recent game 37-6, and it holds a 5-1 all-time edge in the series. There have been two bowl game meetings between these two. The 1975 Orange Bowl was won by the Golden Domers 13-11, while the 1973 Sugar Bowl was won by the Irish 24-23.
Alabama immediately opened up as a 10.5-point favorite on the National Championship betting odds, but that has since been bet down to -9. The Crimson Tide are -360 to win the game outright, while Notre Dame can be found at +300. Earlier in the week, 5Dimes Sportsbook had a projected ‘total’ of 40.5 on the board, but when that spread comes out, we expect to see it a tad higher than that after watching the SEC Championship Game feature 60 combined points.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.