MIAMI — Monday night’s highly touted BCS championship game between No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama didn’t come close to living up to the hype.
The Crimson Tide have a way of doing that.
Alabama scored touchdowns on its first three possessions and played stingy defense throughout a 42-14 hammering of the previously undefeated Fighting Irish before a crowd of 80,120 at Sun Life Stadium. It was the second consecutive BCS title blowout for Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide, who skunked LSU 21-0 last January in New Orleans.
In between its two titles, Alabama produced four first-round NFL draft selections, and the Crimson Tide entered this season with only 10 of 22 returning starters.
“I’m really proud of what this team was able to accomplish together as a group,” Saban said. “This team has exceeded expectations in terms of all the players we lost last year, the injuries that we’ve had and the adversity that had to be overcome. This team has worked and worked hard together to become a very good football team.”
AJ McCarron completed 20 of 29 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns for the Crimson Tide, with tailback Eddie Lacy just as effective with 140 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Amari Cooper was the favorite target for McCarron, compiling 105 yards and two scores on six receptions.
Lacy was voted as the game’s offensive MVP.
Alabama (13-1) won its third BCS title in four seasons and extended the Southeastern Conference’s record streak of consecutive national championships to seven. It was the fourth BCS title for Saban, who earned his first with LSU in 2003.
McCarron came out sizzling, completing 8 of 9 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown through three possessions. Lacy had a 20-yard touchdown run to put Alabama up 7-0 less than three minutes into the game, and by the time backup tailback T.J. Yeldon made it 21-0 on the first play of the second quarter, the Tide had 203 yards to Notre Dame’s 23.
The game remained 21-0 until the final minute of the half, when McCarron found Christion Jones for 27 yards to Notre Dame’s 11-yard line and then connected with Lacy for the touchdown.
“We played well offensively in the first half,” Saban said. “I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage. We ran the ball and we got good balance, and that’s what we wanted to have.”
When Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson scored from 2 yards out with 4:08 left in the third quarter to pull the Fighting Irish within 35-7, it ended a streak of 69 unanswered points by Alabama in BCS title games. Until Golson’s score, the Crimson Tide had held opponents scoreless in BCS games for 108 minutes and seven seconds.
The Irish were overwhelmed in their quest for a first national championship since 1988. They also were trying to become the first BCS champion that began a season unranked after going 8-5 in each of Brian Kelly’s first two years.
“We’ve had an outstanding group of seniors who really helped transform our program from one where we thought we could do it to we’re going to do it,” Kelly said. “We were moving towards that confidence level as a football team that they thought they could do it. I think this year, because of the leadership that we got, the belief got stronger.
“Playing in this game is an incredible springboard into the next season.”
Alabama’s victory will surely appease the older generation of Crimson Tide fans, who endured painful losses to the Irish in the Sugar Bowl after the 1973 season and the Orange Bowl after the ’74 season. The win also breaks a historical tie, as Alabama now has nine Associated Press national championships with Notre Dame still stuck on eight.
Saban’s Tide are certain to start next season ranked No. 1, when they will try to make history with a third straight national crown.
“Everything that we’ve put into this year started two days after last year’s game,” Saban said. “We had a team meeting and talked about what that team would be able to accomplish. It’s not really about me at all. It’s all about this team, this game, this year, and none of that other stuff really mattered from my standpoint.
“I’m really proud of them.”
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...