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Fearless Rick's 2012-13 College Football BCS National Championship

Rick Gagliano | January 7, 2013

Monday, January 7 8:30 pm
Discover BCS National Championship Game Miami Gardens, FL ESPN
(12-1) Alabama Crimson Tide (-9 1/2, 41) vs. (12-0) Notre Dame Fighting Irish
- At long last, the BCS has gotten it right and put - by consensus - the two best teams in the nation into the national championship game.

Alabama will be going for its third national title in four years, all under head coach Nick Saban, one of the masters of college coaching. Saban has been the head coach of the Tide for six years compiling a record of 62-13 and produced two national championship squads, in 2009-10 and last season, 2011-12.

Opposing the Crimson Tide are the undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In three years as head coach, Brian Kelly has transformed the Irish from a so-so unit back to their former prominence as a national powerhouse. In both 2010 and 2011, Kelly produced 8-5 seasons, before running the table this year with a 12-0 record. The Irish haven't played for a national championship in 20 years.

This is not surprising. Kelly is one of America's finest college head coaches, as his tenure at Central Michigan and Cincinnati bear out. In his third season as head coach of the Chippewas, Kelly brought home the MAC championship and went on to a victory in the Motor City Bowl.

At Cincinnati, his teams went 10-3, 11-3 and 12-0, leaving the Bearcats prior to their engagement in the Sugar Bowl following the 2009 season.

Kelly brings a wealth of coaching experience to Notre Dame, a huge factor in a contest of this magnitude.

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For Alabama, winning back-to-back championships would harken back to the glory days of revered head coach Bear Bryant, who coached the Alabama football team to five AP national titles between 1958 and 1982 and won two straight in 1964-65 and again in 1978-79. Saban would truly like to enhance his legacy with a win.

On the field, Alabama is led by quarterback AJ McCarron, who completed 66.8% of his throws for 2669 yards, 26 TDs and only three interceptions, his main target being Amari Cooper, who led the team with 53 receptions for 895 yards.

Alabama's offensive thrust relies more on the ground game, however. The backfield duo of Eddie Lacey and TJ Yeldon combined for 2182 yards rushing behind Alabama's beefy offensive line.

For Notre Dame, handling snaps will be Everett Golson, an athletic sophomore who guided the Irish most of the season after taking over the starting position full time from junior Tommy Rees. Rees was ineffective as the signal caller, and Golson is clearly the better athlete and the future for Notre Dame football.

Golson threw for 2135 yards, completing 59% of his passes for 11 TDs with five picks. Alongside him in the backfield will be the impressive duo of Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood who combined for 1620 yards rushing. On the receiving end of Golson's throws will primarily be tight end Tyler Effert and wideout TJ Jones, along with Riddick, who caught 35 balls out of the backfield.

Offensively, Notre Dame is not as fluid or dynamic as Alabama, but they get the job done in workmanlike fashion, preferring to grind opponents down and let their stellar defense contain opponents. Notre Dame averaged just 26.8 points per game, Alabama, 38.5

Defensively, these are two of the stingiest squads in the country. Notre Dame was tops in the country in points allowed, at 10.3 per game, followed closely by Alabama's 10.7. Neither team is prone to being gashed or missing assignments.

On special teams, Alabama has big edges, statistically, though most of their punt and kick return yardage was due to playing some cream-puff opponents earlier in the season, like Florida Atlantic, Wester Kentucky and Western Carolina, whom Alabama beat by a combined score of 124-7.

The Irish had no such walkovers on their schedule, but still managed big scores against Navy (50-10), Miami (41-3) and Wake Forest (38-0). Notable wins by the Irish came against Michigan State, Michigan, Stanford, BYU, Oklahoma, Pitt and USC.

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Neither team was an exceptional wagering opportunity in 2012. Alabama was 6-7 ATS; Notre Dame was marginally better, at 7-5. As for national championships, the last five straight have been won by teams from the SEC, who are a combined 4-1 ATS.

The lone blemish on either team's record was Alabama's 29-24 loss to Texas A&M, but the Crimson Tide still won the SEC West division and the SEC championship with a testy, 32-28, win over Georgia.

What to expect is a defensive struggle with few scoring opportunities for either team, meaning special teams and turnovers could play a huge role in the outcome and there's not much separating the two in either department.

The Vegas line of -9 for Alabama seems a bit of a stretch, considering how difficult scoring will be to come by in this game. Either team is capable of winning, but motivation seems to fall into Notre Dame's lap, as they have not lost yet and will certainly have desire to complete their season without a loss.

Take the points and get ready for some truly noteworthy hits from both defenses. If anything, Alabama is marginally less-disciplined, and penalties could put the Irish in better field positions.

Bottom line is that the Irish will not back down and are not intimidated in the least, plus, they have a coaching genius who has no doubt devised a game plan predicated on victory.

Prediction: Fighting Irish 13 Crimson Tide 10

All times Eastern

Copyright 2012, 2013, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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