The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have played an opponent similar to the Alabama Crimson Tide this year. That would be their Oct. 13 showdown with the Stanford Cardinal.
As you may remember, Notre Dame won that game against Stanford in overtime, 20-13.
Its running game was held in relative check throughout the contest, but an interception by then-Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes led to a field goal by Notre Dame in the first quarter.
It turned out that field goal was needed; Stanford outscored Notre Dame 13-10 for the remainder of regulation.
Alabama has a better run defense this season than Stanford. That means points are going to be even more difficult to come by for the Fighting Irish.
Alabama also has a better offense than Stanford. That means Notre Dame could cede a few more points to the Crimson Tide on Jan. 7.
In that sense, unless something wild happens in the contest (which is always possible in college football), the best way the Fighting Irish can defeat the Crimson Tide is if they win the turnover battle.
Of course, that's easier said than done.
Alabama has a turnover margin of plus-one this season, tied for 13th in the nation, via CFBStats.com. Quarterback A.J. McCarron is a big part of that. While the Crimson Tide have lost 12 fumbles (tied for 86th in the FBS), McCarron has tossed only three interceptions.
On the other hand, the Fighting Irish have notched 16 interceptions this year, tied for 17th in the country.
While you would expect a unit led by Manti Te'o to force a bunch of fumbles, Notre Dame has only forced seven fumbles this season, tied for 95th in the country.
It's hard to see Notre Dame defeating Alabama with its offense not getting a few more possessions. That's why forcing turnovers will be particularly important for the Fighting Irish come Jan. 7 in Miami.
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