Amari Cooper has become the surprise freshman for Alabama this year. The Crimson Tide brought in highly-regarded running back T.J. Yeldon and played him from day one, but by the end of the season, Cooper was the most valuable freshman for the Tide.
When Alabama needs a game-changing play, it goes to Cooper.
Cooper caught game-winning touchdowns against Georgia, and he scored the final touchdown against Texas A&M, getting the game close enough for a possible Crimson Tide win.
Despite playing in a play-action offense that relies on the running game heavily, Cooper was able to rack up four games with over 100 yards receiving, and three games with multiple touchdowns.
Heading into the title game, he is five catches and less than 100 yards away from matching Julio Jones' freshman campaign at Alabama. Cooper has accumulated 53 receptions, 895 yards and nine touchdowns in 13 games this fall.
Without Cooper in the game, the Alabama offense is limited. Receiver injuries have pushed third- and fourth-string guys onto the field, with Cooper now taking on the role as the leading receiver in the offense.
Notre Dame will not have a freshman that compares to the success of Cooper.
The Irish are led by an underclassmen at quarterback, but Everett Golson's impact will not be the same as Cooper.
Cooper is a one-stop shop for scoring where Golson relies on his surrounding weapons to guide the Irish to wins.
Upperclassmen line the backfield and in the receiving corps. The defense is full of experience and success, with very few underclassmen finding game time.
The freshman class was not needed for immediate success for the Irish this season. Cooper will steal the freshman show in the title game.
T.J. Yeldon will be an impact player for Alabama, but his role has been one of steady production. He gets the Tide consistent rushing yards and helps combine with Eddie Lacy to create as dangerous as any tandem in the SEC.
Still, he is not nearly as explosive as Amari Cooper in a one-play type scenario.
If there is one play remaining in the game and the Alabama offense needs a playmaker, the Tide will throw the football to Cooper. He has become the game-winning role player for the Crimson Tide offense.
Cooper has helped balance the Tide offense, and will draw double coverage often in the title game.
The season that has unfolded for Cooper is one that rivals experienced collegiate receivers. He will bring a bright future to the Crimson Tide air attack for at least the next two years.
Watch for Cooper to make at least one show-stopping play in front of the home crowd in Miami this January.