When Alabama and Notre Dame square off on Monday, the Crimson Tide have an opportunity to push the SEC's BCS National Championship streak to seven.
It's been an almost unprecedented run of dominance by the SEC, as the conference's physical defenses and athleticism have overwhelmed all comers.
However, Notre Dame—an independent—has an opportunity to topple the giant that is the SEC.
The Irish are the only undefeated team in the FBS, and have faced a schedule chock-full of quality opponents. Notre Dame toppled USC, Stanford and Oklahoma, but none of those teams have close to the level of talent the Irish will see when they line up against Alabama.
The Crimson Tide feature an outstanding offensive line, a glutton of talent at running back, an experienced quarterback and playmakers on the outside. Add that to college football's second-best scoring defense and you have a special team.
But the Irish can match up.
It won't be easy, especially with a first-year starter under center. But Notre Dame is capable of beating Alabama.
Any victory will start with the Irish's front seven.
As good as Alabama’s defense has been all season, Notre Dame has been even better.
Their huge front four and athletic linebacking core have surrendered only 10.3 points a game, the best mark in the nation. More impressively, however, they have only allowed two rushing touchdowns this season.
That front seven must win the matchup in the trenches with a talented, not to mention large, Alabama O-line. The Crimson Tide average 5.6 yards per game on the ground. If Notre Dame can limit their rushing attack, it will be the first large step in toppling Alabama.
The second step deals with the offense.
Notre Dame must allow Everett Golson to establish an early rhythm. The sophomore has taken huge steps this season, and is now counted on to make plays instead of just not making mistakes.
However, he has yet to see a defense with the talent of Alabama. Their size and speed can be overwhelming. But if the Irish allow him to get into a rhythm with a few quick throws, it could ease him into the game and allow him to gain a level of comfort on a huge stage.
The third—and most important—step for Notre Dame is simple: Win the turnover battle.
The Irish aren't as deep or as talented offensively as Alabama. But if they force Alabama into turnovers, that won't matter.
Interceptions and fumbles turn games around. If Manti Te'o and company can force a few, it will put the Irish in a great position to win their first national championship since 1988.
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