Monday, January 07, 2013

Alabama: 2013 Division I FBS National Champions

Alabama dominates Notre Dame to claim third BCS national championship in four years

Andrew Gribble | By Andrew Gribble | 
on January 07, 2013 at 10:41 PM, updated January 07, 2013 at 10:44 PM
MIAMI GARDENS, Florida -- The players who comprised Alabama’s roster Monday had nothing to do with the Crimson Tide’s gut-wrenching loss to Notre Dame in the 1973 Sugar Bowl, nothing to do with a similarly tough loss in the 1975 Orange Bowl and nothing to do with the other three losses in its six previous tries against the Fighting Irish.
Ask coach Nick Saban, and he’ll go one step further. This year’s team had nothing to do with last year’s national championship or the one Alabama seized in 2009.
But these players -- recruited exclusively by Saban’s staff and groomed in a program where expectations were re-established as “national title or bust” upon their enrollment -- had everything to do with avenging those haunted shortcomings to the Fighting Irish and enhancing the mystique of one of the greatest eras in Crimson Tide history.
And they did it without a hint of drama.
Alabama’s 42-14 victory on a breezy Miami night at Sun Life Stadium was a recreation of the runaway train routs that filled the space between its nail-biting thrillers against LSU, Texas A&M and Georgia.
The last time a team won the BCS title game by more than 28 points was 2005, when USC routed Oklahoma, 55-19 in the same stadium. The last team to win three titles in a four-year span was Nebraska (1994-97).
For some Crimson Tide players, such as quarterback AJ McCarron, who etched his name next to more records with yet another outstanding championship game performance, it was their third title. 
For sophomore safety HaHa Clinton-Dix -- who was all over the field in one of the best games of his career -- and a number of other underclassmen who embraced elevated roles in 2012, it was the second. 
For true freshmen such as wide receiver Amari Cooper and running back T.J. Yeldon, who shined Monday much like they did throughout the regular season, it was the first.
By the logic Saban applied throughout the year, this national championship was this particular team’s first and only.
“What you did last year is not going to have any impact or effect on what you do next year other than make the game that you play against whoever you're playing against a target,” Saban said earlier in the week. “You're going to be the target. Everybody is going to bring their "A" game to beat you because of what you've accomplished.”
Notre Dame, rejuvenated under third-year coach Brian Kelly after decades of mediocrity, didn’t play anywhere near its “A” game. The Fighting Irish were frazzled in every aspect of the game -- running routes too close to the sideline, missing tackles, muffing punt returns -- and the Crimson Tide was there to pounce on every opportunity.
It took the Alabama less than 3 minutes to strike first. It was the kind of drive that would replicate itself three more times during the Crimson Tide’s dominant first half.
McCarron loosened up the Notre Dame defense with a 29-yard pass to Kevin Norwood before he let Eddie Lacy and the Crimson Tide offensive line do the rest. Lacy ran through a gaping hole up the middle to score a 20-yard touchdown.
Six minutes later, the Crimson Tide did it again. Set up by more of Lacy’s running, McCarron found a wide-open Michael Williams in the back of the end zone with a 3-yard pass to cap a 10-play, 61-yard march down the field.
After ending a first quarter that saw it outgain Notre Dame 202-23, Alabama extended its lead to 21-0 on a 1-yard Yeldon touchdown run. It gave the Crimson Tide the same number of rushing touchdowns as Notre Dame allowed during the entire regular season.
The Crimson Tide capped the half with a 71-yard drive that ended with a whirling Lacy landing in the end zone after he caught and ran with an 11-yard McCarron screen pass.
It was 28-0 before halftime against a team that allowed more than 20 points just once all season.
McCarron’s third-quarter touchdown pass to freshman Cooper went for 34 yards and put him alone at the top among Crimson Tide quarterbacks with 48 for his career. It also capped a 97-yard drive and staked Alabama to its biggest lead of the game, 35-0 -- an advantage that was sliced on the ensuing drive by a 2-yard Everett Golson touchdown run.
The McCarron-Cooper battery hooked up one more time in the fourth quarter for a 19-yard touchdown -- one of the final marks on the Crimson Tide’s history-altering night.

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