Jan 8, 2013, 12:00 AM EDT
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Nick Saban was handed the Coaches’ Trophy just minutes before Monday night turned into Tuesday morning. But the clock struck midnight far earlier for Notre Dame, as the Crimson Tide ended Notre Dame’s Cinderella season in the game’s first fifteen minutes.
After a season where Notre Dame went from unranked to the No. 1 team in the country, the Irish’s unraveling in the national championship game was a shocking conclusion to a season where it seemed like the team’s fairy tale was destined to end hoisting the crystal ball. But the Crimson Tide turned Monday night’s game into a nightmare for Notre Dame, jumping on the Irish with a dominant first quarter, sprinting out to an early 21-0 lead before coasting to a 42-14 victory.
The humbling loss ends Notre Dame’s return to glory on a very sour note. After playing mistake-free football for most of the season’s twelve weeks, the Irish couldn’t get out of their own way early, and Alabama buried them.
The Irish defense that carried the team to the top of the mountain was exploited for most of the evening, as Alabama racked up 529 yards, putting up a staggering 7.2 yards a game. Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon both ran for over 100 yards, and AJ McCarron was a lights-out 20 for 28 for 264 yards and four touchdowns.
In a game that was to be won or loss at the line of scrimmage, Alabama proved to be the dominant team, abusing Notre Dame’s front seven as they rolled to 265 yards rushing. Forced to sell out to stop the run, McCarron punished Notre Dame’s young secondary, and the unit had mental lapses they hadn’t had all season, giving up yards by the chunk.
More to come as the night rolls on, but any hopes of a happy ending to the Irish’s dream season were dashed early, as Alabama won their second straight title, and the mighty SEC won their seventh straight championship.