Alabama vs. Notre Dame: Why Nick Saban, Tide Need to Fear the Fighting Irish

Ian Berg@@ShugJordanPkwyCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24:  Theo Riddick #6 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes past Dion Bailey #18 of the USC Trojans during a 22-13 win at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Alabama is heading into the BCS National Championship with a nine point edge according to The Crimson Tide are supposed to win this game, but there are reasons that Nick Saban and the Tide need to fear the Fighting Irish. 

Notre Dame brings one of the best front sevens in the game to Miami. They also will employ a dual-threat quarterback, something that Alabama has had a lot of trouble with in the past defensively. 

The Irish have a major mismatch at receiver with tight end Tyler Eifert, and a great coach in Brian Kelly making decisions on the sideline. 

The Crimson Tide do not hold every advantage in this game, and here is a look at the reasons that Alabama should approach this game with cautious preparation. If they don’t, the nine point favorite will drop the biggest game of the New Year to the Fighting Irish. 


Everett Golson brings Dual-Threat Dynamic

The Crimson Tide have struggled with dual-threat quarterbacks in the past as their sizable linebackers have struggled to keep containment in space. 

The Irish will employ Everett Golson who brings a great dynamic to the Notre Dame offense. He is a baller from the quarterback position and has continued to improve as the season has progressed. 

Look for Golson to be a major factor in the game for the Notre Dame offense. If he has a big game and is able to find space on the ground against the Tide defense, the Irish will have a solid shot at winning the game. 

If the Crimson Tide defense is able to smother him and keep him contained to the pocket, they will likely force turnovers and create havoc for the Notre Dame offense. It is crucial for Notre Dame for Golson to create plays early. 

The Tide need to be aware and focused on this threat.


Top Front Seven in the Game

Notre Dame has one of the best front seven’s in the college game. They will take that talent to the field against Alabama in Miami on Monday night. 

Alabama has struggled against powerful fronts on a number of occasions. LSU was able to keep the Tide suppressed for much of the game, only allowing a big play off of a screen to set up the Tide’s winning drive. 

The Crimson Tide also struggled to move the football against a talented Texas A&M front that kept the first half production limited, forcing Alabama to search for the big play to catch up in the second half. 

Without a powerful inside rushing attack, the Tide will also struggle to find the go-to play-action touchdown pass that has happened 11 times for Alabama this fall. 

The Alabama offense relies on the ability to control the line of scrimmage and move around the middle of the field. This Notre Dame defense may be the best front they have played this year, and they won’t allow that free reign to occur.


Tyler Eifert Mismatch

Tyler Eifert is one of the best pass-catching tight ends in college football. He proved that this season with his stellar performances throughout the year. 

He will bring a major mismatch to this game, and should be able to make plays against the Tide defense. The last threat that Alabama faced similar to Eifert was Texas A&M’s Mike Evans. 

Evans caught five passes, all five going for first downs. If Eifert is able to have the same type of impact, the Irish will be able to control a large piece of the clock and churn up field at their own pace. 

Driving the football and keeping it from Alabama is a key goal and will be an easier goal to attain with Eifert catching passes. The Irish will be wise to get him into the game early, making the Tide recognize the threat which will open up the ground game. 

If the Tide ignore these three keys, they will lose this battle. Alabama is not made for comebacks. This Irish team will be ready, and these three keys will be the difference in a win or a loss for Alabama in Miami.