Notre Dame has dusted off the failures of recent years past to become one of the best programs of the 2012 college football season. The Irish will take part in the BCS National Championship Game to end a great resurgent season but will fall just short of taking home the title.
If head coach Brian Kelly and Co. were facing any other team in this title game, it would be Notre Dame's to win. Unfortunately for them, however, the Irish must take on Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide.
Saban's crew is used to being in this situation, winning two of the last three National Championship Games. It doesn't matter if the players who made those teams click, like Trent Richardson and Mark Barron, are gone, because Saban just plugs other guys in and gets similar results.
The Crimson Tide may be the only team with a loss on its resume playing in this game, but that's expected since they played the harder schedule. Notre Dame played one less nationally ranked team than Alabama and played teams like Navy, BYU and Wake Forest.
On the other hand, you have Alabama, which played the likes of Michigan, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Auburn. The record comparison may favor the Irish but only if you don't put the two schedules under the microscope.
Saban's team has been tested early and often by tough opponents this season and will use that experience to take down its BCS opponent. How Alabama plans to go about doing that was elaborated a bit by safety Robert Lester.
"We want to take away the run and make them one-dimensional," Lester told Don Kausler Jr. of the Birmingham News.
Notre Dame's rushing duo of Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood have combined for more than 1,600 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the season. It makes sense that the Crimson Tide would want to force their opponent's offense into relying solely on sophomore Everett Golson.
Golson has thrown just 11 touchdowns with five interceptions on the season. Combine that with the fact that he has just three games where he threw more than one touchdown, and you have to think that the Alabama defense would be happy to force Golson into beating them.
Defensively for Notre Dame, having to shut down NFL-hopeful quarterback A.J. McCarron and his deadly duo of running backs will prove too much.
McCarron has thrown 26 touchdowns compared to just three interceptions with more than 2,600 yards passing on the season. Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon have both rushed for more than 1,000 yards and have scored a combined 27 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.
Notre Dame's defense may be ranked No. 1 in points against this season, but Alabama has the firepower to post enough points to win this contest.