Vegas had set the spread at 9.5 points in favor 0f Alabama, basically telling the Irish that coach Brian Kelly’s squad should start looking forward to next year. Most fans around the blogosphere, Twitterverse, and in real life saw the Tide rolling as well.
But no one foresaw it happening like this. No one predicted a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter; no one expected a 28-0 lead at halftime.
Nobody could have possibly predicted a 42-14 final outcome in favor of the Tide.
But after winning their third BCS National Championship in a four-year span, can anyone honestly say they are surprised?
Notre Dame, one of the most historically dominant programs in all of college football, punched its first ticket for a chance at a national title since 1988 on the strength of what had been the nation’s most stellar defense in 2012.
Led by Heisman Trophy runner-up, linebacker Manti Te’o, the Irish averaged only 10.3 points per game allowed on a perfect, 12-0 regular season.
Unfortunately for them, their pristine points per game average given up simply did not hold up against the Alabama Crimson Tide — the newest in a long line of college football teams to call themselves a ‘dynasty’.
Nick Saban won his fourth personal national title after winning one with LSU back in the day, and his players each etched their name in the history books with individual performances of a lifetime and a career filled with wins, rings, crystal balls and superstardom.
Running back Eddie Lacy, a junior, set the tone early and did not let up, earning Offensive MVP honors in rushing for a whopping 140 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries for a 7.0 yard per carry average.
But this was not at all a one-man show. Lacy ran like the champion he was crowned as after the game, but where three other quarterbacks had failed in the BCS era, Lacy’s quarterback succeeded. Chris Weinke of Florida State, Ken Dorsey of Miami, and Matt Leinhart of USC all earned a BCS title game berth after winning the year before, but each failed to take home their second ring.
Fellow junior AJ McCarron completed a stellar 20-of-28 passes for 264 yards and an almost silly four touchdowns. McCarron has successfully transformed from a ‘game manager’ to a true star in his own right — his four-score performance helped him to become the first quarterback to win back-to-back titles in the history of the Bowl Championship Series.
True freshman TJ Yeldon also broke the 100-yard plateau with 108 yards on 21 carries.
But this game was about the Tide seniors, and center Barrett Jones especially.
Jones not only started in all three Tide championships in the last four seasons, but he did so at three different positions. It would not be a stretch to call him one of the greatest offensive linemen in the history of college football.
There was a lot of history made on a warm Monday evening in beautiful Miami, Florida. There were a lot of statistics piled up as well.
But only one number matters.
No. 1 – the position the Alabama Crimson Tide finished the college football season, for the third time in four years.