In the most anticipated BCS National Championship game of all time undefeated and number one ranked Notre Dame will face the toughest test of their miraculous season against defending champion Alabama. Despite being ranked number one the Irish are nine point underdogs to the Crimson Tide and few experts believe the Irish will win. However, the Irish have made a habit of proving the experts wrong this season, and the following matchups are the ones the Irish must win to be crowned national champions:
The Irish and Crimson Tide are mirror images of each other, as both teams look to play dominating defense and control the line of scrimmage by running the football. The most important matchup at the point of attack will be Notre Dame’s star nose-tackle Louis Nix against Alabama’s all-American center Barrett Jones. Nix has been a force all-season for the Irish, totally 45 tackles, two sacks, and five pass breakups. Nix will look to take advantage of the fact Jones will not be at 100 percent as he will be nursing a broken foot. Taking advantage of Jones is easier said than done however, as he is the key to an Alabama rushing offense that possesses two 1000 yard rushers and averages 5.6 yards per carry.
The most decorated player in college football history, Manti Te’o, will need to have one more legendary performance for the Irish to become national champions. Te’o will face one of the most elite running back tandems in the nation, that of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. Te’o has faced plenty of talented running backs this season but never a team with two elite backs coupled with a dominating offensive line. Lacy and Yeldon represent a combination of power and speed. Lacy represents the power with 1182 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns, and freshman sensation T.J. Yeldon represents the speed with 1000 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 6.5 yards per carry. Te’o will need to set the tone physically versus Lacy and Yeldon in order for the Irish defense to avoid being on the field for long stretches of time.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson has done an excellent job this season growing as a player and leading the Irish offense. Golson has limited turnovers, which cost the Irish in the past, and has made plays both on the ground and through the air. Golson will need to continue to limit turnovers and make even more plays as he faces the best defense he has seen in his career in Alabama. The Alabama defense is led by junior linebacker C.J. Mosley and his 99 tackles, four sacks, and two interceptions. Mosley is an all-American talent and will be constantly reading Golson waiting for a mistake and opportunities to punish him physically.