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Final Questions: Notre Dame vs. Alabama

Jan 7, 2013, 2:19 PM EDT

Discover BCS National Championship - Head Coaches Press Conference Getty Images

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla.  — After a wait that felt almost biblical, Notre Dame and Alabama will finally play for the BCS National Championship. After over 40 days of breaking down match-ups, digging deeper into opponents, and hypothesizing about one of college football’s dream match-ups, it’s time to play the game.

Let’s run through some final questions:

Who will win the line of scrimmage?

If there’s one battle that’ll likely tell the story of this game, it’s the war in the trenches. Can Notre Dame’s offensive line hold up against Alabama’s stout front? Can the Irish defensive line hold up against the Crimson Tide’s vaunted offensive line?

In what will likely feel like a heavyweight fight, seeing these two powerful fronts battle will be the key match-up.

Will the Irish secondary continue to limit big plays?

For a group that’s spent the entire season playing great football, there are still an awful lot of questions about Notre Dame’s secondary. But Zeke Motta, Matthias Farley, KeiVarae Russell and Bennett Jackson have quietly gone about their business. And played really good football.

Talking to that quartet on media day, there was a quiet confidence among the group. Bennett Jackson talked about playing a physical brand of cornerback, all with his shoulder in a harness. KeiVarae Russell gave me a thousand-watt smile when asked about his interception against Marqise Lee, and his, “Oh, hell yes,” attitude.

Notre Dame will need a big game out of Motta, who will be needed in run support. And they know that the Tide will likely test the Irish secondary vertically early, hoping to bust talented freshman Amari Cooper lost. Can the back-end of the Irish defense continue to limit the big plays?

Can Notre Dame run the ball?

With their coming out party in the second half against Miami, the Irish run game has been dominant this season, racking up solid statistics against a schedule filled with teams stingy against the run. But this will be their biggest test of the year, and their toughest opponent to date.

How the Irish use their trio of talented runners will be key. But getting something out of the ground game, and keeping a balanced offensive attack, will be critical. While Theo Riddick might be the guy that takes the lions share of the carries, both Cierre Wood and George Atkinson have the ability to break long runs, and the Irish will need to break off one or two if they hope to win.

Can Everett Golson play mistake free football?

Everett Golson has seen plenty of big stages. But tonight is a different story. Golson’s evolution has been tremendous, and he’s going to need to take a big step forward against the Tide if the Irish want to be crowned national champs.

Brian Kelly is confident in his quarterback and his ability to make plays both in and out of the pocket. And Golson is going to have to find the right mix of smarts and aggression, knowing when to take chances and when to show patience. This Alabama team is the No. 1 defense in the country, and they take the ball away better than last year’s dominant outfit. Golson staying clean in the turnovers category is crucial.

Will the Irish rise to the moment?

Preparing a team for one game is a difficult proposition. Putting together a game plan for six weeks is never easy. But this team feels confident in their preparation, and Notre Dame is loose and ready to play.

But will the Irish play their best on the game’s biggest stage? That’s the million dollar question.

  1. dh75 - Jan 7, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    40 days and 40 nights we have wandered in the desert awaiting redemption!! Bring it on Irish!!!

  2. jerseyshorendfan1 - Jan 7, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    The Irish win this one tonight, they will not be denied. My prediction: Irish 21-17 in a real nail biter. It’s been a magic season and tonight will be a story book ending. I think Felix Unger put it best when he said,”La forza del destino!” see you on the blog KA.

  3. fw190wuerger - Jan 7, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    Can hardly get any work done today. Excitement for tonight, memories of 35 years ago. While leaving the 1978 Cotton Bowl Classic, I composed a quick song, The Earl Campbell Song, which I will share with you today. [FYI, in the song, Campbell = Texas’ Heisman Trophy Winner, Brad Shearer = UT’s Outland Trophy Winner, Gold Medal = 1976 Olympic Gold Medalist and UT wide receiver “Lam” Jones. Golic I presume all of you know!]

    “The Earl Campbell Song” (sung to “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”)

    I’ve been running into Golic, all the live long day,
    Oh, I’ve been running into Golic, I could not get away,
    Shearer couldn’t buy a tackle, Gold Medal couldn’t catch a pass,
    Oh, I’ve been running into Golic, he really kicked my _ _ _!

    Go Irish, beat Bama!!!

    • papadec - Jan 7, 2013 at 7:00 PM

      fw190 – I love it – but don’t quit your day job & head for Nashville, just yet. GO IRISH!!!!!!!!!!

  4. ndnapa - Jan 7, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    I’m excited, but strangely calm. That means ND 27-17. One QB won’t be able to handle the pressure, but it won’t be Golson. Jones cannot handle Nix even if he is healthy. And Tuitt and Shembo will turn the edge on Fluker like he;s a statue.

    Irish need to throw into the endzone before they’re in the red zone. Bama can’t cover the deep zones. Cierre needs a couple of big runs, Riddick on wheel routes.

    Alabama and the whole SEC is vastly overrated this year. It’s ND’s year.

    • reidrtate - Jan 8, 2013 at 8:50 AM

      WHAT? Obviously ALL Notre Dame Fans live in a dream world of 100 years ago. How about your White safety being unable to cover ANYBODY and the great Manti Te’o showing how OVERRATED he really is. Notre Dame is a joke and will remain a joke. YOU WILL NEVER WIN A TITLE AGAIN.

    • sadist76 - Jan 8, 2013 at 1:56 PM

      ^ ROTFL

  5. bb90grad - Jan 7, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    A couple hors d’oeuvres:

    4 hours away…

    • papadec - Jan 7, 2013 at 7:08 PM

      bb90 – nice package – thanks! GO IRISH!!!!!!!!

  6. 410keith - Jan 7, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Roll tide!!!!!

    • papadec - Jan 7, 2013 at 7:10 PM

      410 – what a pathetic life you must have – that you have nothing better to do than come here with your BS. Isn’t there a Bama website?

      • sadist76 - Jan 8, 2013 at 1:59 PM

        Yes , but Alabama doesn’t have a major television network station to cover them . I guess they are not good enough ….. end sarcasm.

  7. yaketyyacc - Jan 7, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    before this game begins, and all the “I told you sos” offer reasons as to why we won or lost, let me thank this great group of football players that have done nothing but make us proud all season, and wish all of you the best game of your lives.
    well, maybe just this thought: how about leaving the 2013 football team something to build on!

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jan 7, 2013 at 5:10 PM

      More than something to build on, how about something to repeat? Wouldn’t that be nice?

  8. oldestguard - Jan 7, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    Loved every one of those 40 days and I believe BK used them wisely.

    “Fighting Irish” vs some “dark-red wave” – not even close.

    ND trenchmen will dictate the night.

    Irish by a 21-17 margin.

    Golic in a thong…that may be the toughest part.

    • bernhtp - Jan 7, 2013 at 6:42 PM

      Golic admitted to me that his junk doesn’t fit into the thong pouch he showed on tv. He said he would get arrested. Expect some accommodation.

  9. heisenbyrg - Jan 7, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    I can’t f****** believe Matt Millen’s job is to explain things on tv. Apparently Gholston to Eefert might play a role in this game.

    • papadec - Jan 7, 2013 at 7:18 PM

      heis – I can’t f***ing believe you still don’t know their names.

      • heisenbyrg - Jan 7, 2013 at 7:33 PM

        Uh… Missed the point 100% dude.

  10. elwaysmilehighdenver - Jan 7, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    31-14 Roll Tide!

  11. careyb44 - Jan 7, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    SEC dominance continues. Oregon would have been a better game.
    35-10 Bama.

  12. tony34343434 - Jan 7, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    lets go boys! wake up the echoes and be heroes. Just watched Rudy for the 1000th time to get in the mood, still tear up. So proud of ND. Punch them in the mouth boys, take it to them. GO IRISH!

  13. 1notredamefan - Jan 7, 2013 at 6:30 PM


  14. badgerbuck - Jan 7, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    It does not matter they will get 20 million dollars that’s what counts

  15. papadec - Jan 7, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    Good Grief! Someone left the gate open & the trolls got loose. The only thing that really concerns me about the game is Golson not tucking the ball in when he runs. Hopefully the coaches worked on that, and he doesn’t do it anymore. GO IRISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. notredave - Jan 7, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    When Everett was in kindergarten or first grade, his teacher said after witnessing him throw a football . ” This kid is going to win the Heisman”. While that remains to be seen.,.tonight he shines in an Irish victory! GO IRISH!!

  17. loadofwash - Jan 7, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    He ain’t looking to good

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