Here are the Crystal Ball Run staff’s picks for Monday night’s BCS National Championship Game!
Allen Kenney’s Take: I've tried to look for one notable edge in this game in either side, and I'm not finding any. The closest thing is Amari Cooper versus Notre Dame's secondary. From a more intangible standpoint, the quarterbacks are fascinating. There's more boom-or-bust to Everett Golson, while there's an experience factor at play in favor of A.J. McCarron.
Ultimately, I like the fact that Alabama has been in this position before. I'll take that side over one that hasn't played as many games in the big stage as if late.
Alabama 20, Notre Dame 13
Tom Perry’s Take: In a defensive struggle, Notre Dame's defense comes out on top. It's also time for the SEC championship run to come to an end.
Notre Dame 17, Alabama 16
Andy Coppens’ Take: People assume because of the defenses in this game that it'll be low scoring, but give Brian Kelly a month to prep an offense I think you'll see Notre Dame's offense carry the day in this one. No matter what this game should be fun to say the least.
Notre Dame 27, Alabama 20
Aaron Torres’ Take: The more I think about this game, the more I realize that Notre Dame might have more actual on the field advantages than Alabama does. But the one thing I can't over is that Alabama has been here before; not only in National Championships but in big games period. It seems like every big game played the last four or five years involved Alabama, and more often than not they came out on top.
In the biggest game, give me the coach and team who has been here before, and done it so many times already.
Alabama 17, Notre Dame 14
Dave Singleton’s Take: Yep. Alabama scores 21 in the BCS title game. Yep. Nick Saban wins again. But this time there is a degree of difficulty, as the Fighting Irish live up to their nickname by putting up quite a defensive effort. But A.J. McCarron hits a big pass late in the fourth quarter to get the Tide close, and Eddie Lacy scores the go-ahead touchdown with less than two minutes to go to claim another title for Nick Saban, Alabama and the SEC.
Alabama 21, Notre Dame 17
Kevin McGuire’s Take: Notre Dame has answered each and every challenge they have faced all season. All of those experiences have built them to be prepared for this final test. Alabama's defense may not be as good as last year;s and that could end up being a huge factor as Notre Dame will look to emulate some of the things Texas A&M and Georgia were able to do well against the Crimson Tide this season. If Everett Golson can make some plays and Notre Dame can stick with the running game, then I fully expect the Fighting IRish to stay within reach of this game going in to the fourth quarter because their defense is more than just Manti T'eo. Many will say Alabama may be the most physical team Notre Dame has faced this season, and maybe that is true, but Notre Dame has already beaten Stanford so they have proven they can play physical when needed.
I've said for a while I'm leaning toward Alabama but I'll roll with the Irish tonight in a tight one.
Notre Dame 20, Alabama 17
John Walters’ Take: Notre Dame 97, Alabama 3 (I expect Kyle Brindza to miss at least one PAT)
Okay, I was channeling my inner Ditka on that. I like Notre Dame in a close finish, 17-16.
Why? The Irish have passed every test this season. People mention the wins at Oklahoma and USC, but anyone paying close attention knows that Stanford was the both the best and most physical team the Irish faced, and they checked that box.
Grit? They were understandably flat after a four-week stretch of Miami, Stanford, BYU and the Sooners, and it showed for three quarters versus Pitt. But they pulled off a fourth-quarter comeback from two touchdowns behind to win.
The defense has allowed nine touchdowns all season. Just one rushing TD (to the Bell Dozer!). A pair of epic goal-line stands, versus Stanford and USC.
Alabama is awesome. Three championship games in four seasons. Head coach Nick Saban. The best offensive line in the nation. Big-game experience.
But maybe, just maybe, Notre Dame is hungrier. Its defense is the best the Crimson Tide has seen all season. Yes. And the Irish have a tight end in Tyler Eifert whom no team has an answer for. He is, for me, the X-factor (and those who follow my tweets on game days know that he has been for three seasons now).
You can talk about the eerie similarities between this Irish squad and the 1988 team (the African-American quarterback from South Carolina, etc.) or that coach-in-his-third-season phenomenon that, let's face it, is downright spooky (Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian, Devine and Holtz all won national titles in their third year). Those are not reasons why the Irish will win, but rarther will make for nice paragraphs in post-game features.
The Irish will win because they are not afraid of Alabama. Not afraid of the SEC hegemony. And while the Crimson Tide are an excellent team, they're not quite as stout as last season's team. Or as 2009's. Close game. Riveting game. The Irish will find a way.
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