In 2006 the Alabama football program was on a downward spiral and in search of redemption; looking for a spark to ignite the championship caliber team that fans and pundits alike had become accustomed to. After a disappointing 6-6 season and the ensuing firing of Mike Shula, 2007 would bring about change that would affect college football, the SEC and “Roll Tide” nation forever.
University of Alabama Athletic Director, Mal Moore, saved the tradition of Alabama football with the hiring of Nick Saban. Saban’s impact on the Alabama program was felt immediately, as he channeled his longtime predecessor Paul “Bear” Bryant, through his will to win and superior recruiting abilities.
Bryant was the leader of Alabama’s first modern day dynasty in years (1961-66, 1973-79).
Alabama would forever be apart of a small group of programs to achieve something so extraordinary, that it only happens about once in a decade.
On Jan. 7 2013, No. 2 Alabama will face No. 1 Notre Dame for its unprecedented place in history. A win in Miami would solidify the Saban era’s mark in history books and its impact on college football for decades to come.
Alabama would become the first team since the inception of the BCS to win three national titles within a four year span. Alabama is vying to achieve what no other team has since Nebraska became a dynasty 15 years ago, between 1994-1997.
Alabama is currently the nation’s most dominant football program and has proven year in and out why they are the team to beat.
Notre Dame; with its historical stamp on the sport, is the most storied.
For countless football fanatics and analysts, this match-up has generated a new and obviously rampant proverb: this will be the biggest game in BCS history.
Just one more win…
…And the tide’s dynasty goal will be clinched but it will not be an easy task.
While the SEC and University of Alabama’s dominance over college football has given the Crimson Tide the edge, both Notre Dame and Alabama are quite comparable in terms of strengths and weaknesses.
Notre Dame touts the nation’s top scoring defense, allowing only 10.3 points per game; at No. 2 is none other than Alabama. The Crimson Tide is No. 1, however, in total defense allowing a mere 246 offensive yards per game.
Similar to Alabama and other SEC teams, the Irish’s front seven have both size and talent, with their four linemen tipping the scale at 300 pounds or more. Notre Dame is ranked No.4 against the run.
Like Alabama, the Irish’s pass rush has struggled, allowing opponents over 194 yards through the air, a per game average.
The Alabama secondary finished fifth in passing yards allowed but, SEC quarterbacks, such as LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, and Georgia’s Aaron Murray, all found success against the Alabama threat, each throwing for over 250 yards.
Key players, match-ups, and special teams play are likely game changers
We all know that Manti Te’o is the captain of Notre Dame’s defensive ship, but other important players that Alabama must contain include defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who has 12 sacks and 13 tackles for loss; tight end Tyler Eifert, who has 44 receptions for 624 yards and four touchdowns on the year; and possibly quarterback Everett Golson, but he has to utilize his dual threat abilities to attack the Tide’s only weakness, its secondary.
Alabama defensive backs will be crucial in limiting the success of Golson’s passing game.
With just under one week to go before kickoff, Alabama’s award-winning offensive lineman Barrett Jones has yet to practice for the BCS title game. Jones suffered a sprained foot injury during the SEC championship against Georgia. The absence of Jones could be detrimental to Alabama’s offensive line. He’s the foundation that holds the Tide’s offensive front together, and the match-up between Jones and Notre Dame’s nose guard Louis Nix is key.
Without Barrett Jones, the Tide may double-team 340-pound Nix.
Nick Saban wins games big by dominating field position. The Alabama Crimson Tide boasts the nations’ 18th ranking in punting, often nailing the opposition deep within its own territory, then allowing its front seven to force three and outs.
There is no doubt that field position will be significant and could determine the games’ outcome. but also key, is the Irish’s ability to stop the dual threat of Alabama’s running game; the Lacy and Yeldon machine.
Finally, the BCS got it right…
…And, by right, I mean that the BCS has done what it was designed to do: match the top two teams for the National Championship game.
Last year’s rematch between LSU and Alabama left most non-SEC fans feeling both cheated and annoyed. As a result, many experienced a sudden case of what some have called Southeastern Conference fatigue.
This year, the Alabama fan base is preparing to tout title No. 15, while Notre Dame fans are anxious to dethrone Tide nation and, the SEC, to reclaim the storied program’s former glory.
Will Brian Kelly emerge as South Bend’s new Lou or will Nick Saban convince the Alabama faithful to replace hounds tooth fedoras with straw hats?
What we do know is that this is a game for the ages. A game between two of the most decorated and traditionally sound teams in college football history.
The last meeting between these two programs was in 1987. Notre Dame leads the series 5-1. How that record changes on Jan. 7 remains to be seen.