Alabama Football: Does Nick Saban Own Every Coaching Advantage over Brian Kelly?

Ian BergCorrespondent IDecember 20, 2012

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 03:  Coach Nick Saban of Alabama watches from the sidelines as his team plays LSU at Tiger Stadium on November 3, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Alabama Crimson Tide is headed for a third appearance in the BCS National Championship Game in four years this January. The Tide are trying to win two consecutive national titles and have a lot of advantages heading into the game. 

Nick Saban knows how to win football games and his team has a lot of the edge headed into Miami, but the Brian Kelly-led Fighting Irish will have some of their own. 


Alabama Advantages

The Crimson Tide were the early favorite for the national title this year for a number of reasons. They had won the game convincingly the year prior and faced a very manageable schedule heading into the 2012 season. 

The Alabama offense is led by a veteran quarterback, and it has one of the best offensive lines in the country. The defense finished the regular season in the Top Five in every category, stopping opposing offense in their tracks every Saturday this fall. 

This Alabama team has been there before, and that plays well into the hands of the Crimson Tide. 

Having experience with the media circus and surrounding distractions that come with a BCS bowl is a bigger plus than playing in the game a year ago for this Alabama squad. 

The on-field battle is something both teams will be ready for, but the distractions that come with this stage will be something old for Alabama, and new for Notre Dame. 

Alabama has also played one additional game this year against top-level competition, giving them one more shot at success on a national stage. 


Notre Dame Advantages

Notre Dame doesn’t have many advantages going into this game, but being the underdog is the biggest play this team has. 

People love the underdog, and right now the Irish are that team. Despite the 12-0 record and the No. 1 ranking, most projections place Notre Dame in the losing circle in Miami.

This team has nothing to lose. Brian Kelly can and will use that to his advantage. This team is looking for an edge, and the lack of respect that they get on the national stage despite their undefeated run is one that can play out well for this squad. 

Brian Kelly has also been in title scenarios before. He led Grand Valley State to two national titles and through four playoff runs. Winning games week after week in a playoff setting is more difficult that pulling out one singular bowl win. 

It won’t be easy if the Irish succeed, but the opportunity is there and Kelly knows how to make that happen for this team. 

Notre Dame also has one of the best front sevens in the game. While Alabama is strong upfront, the Irish are the most talented group Alabama has faced this year. Not having experienced this level of play this season will be tough for the Tide and an advantage for the Irish. 


Not all, but Most

Not every advantage is tipped in Alabama’s favor, but most are. Both teams will be ready for this game, but Notre Dame will have a tall hill to climb to get the win. 

Nick Saban has his team hitting on all cylinders and returning to a game that is very familiar. 

Brian Kelly is leading his team against all odds through an undefeated run, and a shot at the national title. This may not be the Irish’s year, but it won’t be because they don’t have a few edges of their own in this game.