If you ask people in the South, there is the SEC, and the rest of college football. If you don’t play in the SEC, you aren’t a “real” college football team. Before the National Championship was determined, Vegas had Notre Dame as underdogs against four possible SEC teams (Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Texas A&M). Currently, Notre Dame is a 10 point dog heading into Monday’s game with Alabama. The question everyone is asking is “how bad will Notre Dame be embarrassed in the National Championship?” The answer to that question is not at all. Not only will Notre Dame not be embarrassed, they will take home the National Championship for these five reasons:
SEC Worthy Defensive Line
This isn’t your typical Notre Dame defensive line. Traditional Irish teams have featured a pro style quarterback and the “try hard” kids on the defensive side of the ball. The 2012 Irish feature a fast, hard hitting defense in which their D-Line is the strength. The line feature three heavily recruited SEC targets Kapron Lewis-Moore, Louis Nix, and Stephon Tuitt. If you haven’t heard of these three, you soon will on Sundays. Each of these fantastic talents have shown the ability to single handily take over a football game.
This is where the game is going to be decided. Alabama’s biggest strength is their offensive line that features five guys who will be playing on Sundays. They have done a great job all year controlling the line of scrimmage to open up holes for superstar running backs Eddie Lacy (1,182 yds 16 TD’s) and T.J. Yeldon (1,000 yds 11 TD’s). If Notre Dame can win the battle up front, and I believe they will, this will give a huge edge to the Irish.
Everett Golson = Poor Man’s Johnny Manziel
Alabama finished the year 12-1 with their one loss coming to the Johnny Manziel led Texas A&M Aggies. While I’m not saying Everett Golson is Johhny Manziel, he can do a lot of the same things. The Alabama defense is good, but they struggled mightily with the mobile quarterback. They were able to contain Denard Robinson earlier in the year, but Denard couldn’t complete a pass if he tried that night. Everett is a much more accomplished thrower and is very mobile. He has shown the ability all year to make big throws when the Irish needed it. If Brian Kelly is able to use Golson the same way Kevin Sumlin used Johnny Manziel, the Notre Dame offense should be able to do enough to come home victorious.
There isn’t a better tight end in the nation than Tyler Eifert. NFL teams are drooling over his abilities to stretch the defense at the tight end position, and he should cause major problems for Alabama. While Alabama features a very talented group at linebacker, they are young and inexperienced. If Saban wants to continue to blitz the Irish, he will have to account for Eifert. He has the size of a tight end and the skill set of a wide receiver. Look for Eifert to have a big night on Monday.
While people all over the nation criticize Notre Dame for all of the close victories this year, this squad has been battle tested. They won close games over nationally ranked Michigan and Stanford and won decisively on the road at #8 Oklahoma. Sure they needed three overtimes to beat Pittsburgh and had to hang on to beat average Purdue and BYU teams, but Notre Dame knows how to play in close games. If they fall behind early or have a fourth quarter nail biter, this team won’t feel the pressure. This team has seen it all, and is prepared for whatever they have to face.
Will to Win
While Notre Dame’s offense ranks 75th in passing yards per game (218 yards) and 29th in rushing yards (202.5 yards), the defense ranks 1st nationally in points against (10.3 pts). All year, the defense has risen to the occasion to make big stops and force turnovers when they needed them. From their huge goal line stand against Stanford, to the numerous turnovers they forced all year, this defense won’t let the Irish lose. Manti Te’o has one mission before he graduates, and that’s to win a National Championship. A few years ago, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow gave his team “the promise” to win a National Championship. While Manti plays on the other side of the ball, his will and passion to win is just like Tebow’s, and I wouldn’t bet against him.
There’s no doubt about it, Monday’s National Championship is going to be Notre Dame’s biggest challenge to date. Giving Nick Saban a month to prepare a defense is a scary thought, but Brian Kelly has been pulling all the right strings on offense this year. It will be a hard fought close game, but Notre Dame wins the National Championship 17-14.