Alabama Defeats Notre Dame for 15th National Title
The Alabama Crimson Tide football team established its dominance early on the way to a dominant performance as the Tide earned the programs 15th national championship in football with a 42-14 victory over Notre Dame in the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship Game on Monday night.
Playing before a Sun Life Stadium record crowd of 80,120 the Tide raced to touchdowns on their first three offensive possessions and built a lead that eventually reached 35-0 in the third quarter. The title, Alabama’s third in the past four seasons, concluded a 13-1 season for the Tide while Notre Dame fell to 12-1 with the loss. Tide quarterback AJ McCarron passed for four touchdowns and 264 yards while completing 20 of 28 attempts without throwing an interception.
Running back Eddie Lacy rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown while averaging seven yards per carry, wide receiver Amari Cooper caught six passes for 105 yards and two scores, and running back T.J. Yeldon rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown as the Tide offense flourished behind an outstanding performance by its offensive line. Alabama gained 529 total yards while exhibiting incredible balance, rushing for 265 yards and passing for 264.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our players, our coaches and our entire organization tonight,” said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. “I really feel that we played a complete game tonight. We came out and had great tempo on offense and dominated the line of scrimmage and I think that set the tone.”
With the win, Alabama’s 2012 senior class won a school record 49 games over the past four seasons while losing only five contests. The 48 wins is tied for the second most in college football history and ranks among the best four-year totals in Southeastern Conference history (Florida won 48 games from 2006-09 and Alabama won 48 from 2008-11). Nebraska holds the record for senior class wins among BCS schools, with the 1997 Cornhuskers class posting a 49-2 record and three national championships. Earlier senior classes from Oklahoma (2003), Southern California (2005 & 2006), Florida (2009) and Alabama (2011) all have accumulated 48 wins.
The Crimson Tide has 61 victories since the start of the 2008 season, the most in a five-year span in SEC history and tied with Nebraska (1993-97) for the most in major college football. By beating Auburn on Nov. 24, the Crimson Tide passed the SEC record (58) established by the Florida teams of 2005-09.
Dating back to the start of the 2008 season, Alabama has won 61 games (most in the Football Bowl Subdivision). The Crimson Tide won 12 games in 2008, followed by a perfect 14-0 record in 2009, a 10-3 mark in 2010 and a 12-1 record in 2011. Alabama went 13-1 in 2012.
Alabama took the opening kickoff and showed balance on an 82-yard drive that took six plays and ended with a 20-yard touchdown run by Eddie Lacy. The drive was keyed by a 29-yard pass from McCarron to Kevin Norwood on the second play of the game, the play reaching the Alabama 48. Lacy rushed for 10 yards on the next play to the Irish 42 and a 15-yard face mask penalty against Notre Dame on the play moved the ball to the Irish 27. Notre Dame jumped offside on the next play to advance the Tide to the Irish 22 and T.J. Yeldon rushed for two yards to the 20, setting up Lacy’s touchdown run behind good blocking to give Alabama a 7-0 lead following Jeremy Shelley’s conversion kick with 12:03 left in the first quarter.
After Notre Dame punted on its first possession, Alabama took over at its 39 and marched 61 yards in 10 plays to another touchdown. Lacy rushed for three yards on first down, and then took a swing pass from McCarron for six yards to the Tide 48. On third-and-one, Lacy took a handoff off left tackle and gained eight to the Irish 44. On first down, Notre Dame safety Zeke Motta broke up a connection by McCarron to wide receiver Marvin Shinn at the Notre Dame 25. On second down, Lacy took a pitch left and gained five yards to the Irish 39. On third-and-five, McCarron hit Shinn on a quick slant for seven yards and a first down at the Irish 32. Lacy took a handoff at left guard for five yards to the Irish 27. On second down, McCarron passed to Amari Cooper on a quick curl-in for four yards to set up third-and one at the Tide 23. Then took a handoff up the middle and bulled for 20 yards behind a clearing block by Cyrus Kouandjio to the Irish three. On the next play, McCarron faked a handoff to Lacy and tossed a soft pass to tight end Michael Williams in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown. Shelley’s kick gave the Tide a 14-0 lead with 6:14 left in the first quarter.
Notre Dame took the ensuing kickoff and started at its own 19. On first down, Irish quarterback Everett Golson passed to tight Tyler Eifert for 12 yards to the Irish 31. Eifert was stripped of the ball by Tide safety Robert Lester, who recovered the fumble. But a review of the play revealed the Eifert’s knee was down before the fumble, giving Notre Dame the football after a gain of eight at the Irish 29. On second down, Irish running back Cierre Wood took a pitchout left for seven yards and a first down at the Irish 35. Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley stuffed running back Theo Riddick for now gain on first down. A second down pass was incomplete. On third-and-10 at the Irish 35, Golson rolled to his left and passed incomplete to set up a punt.
Alabama started the next drive at its own 20 and marched 80 yards in eight plays to notch its third touchdown in as many possessions. Yeldon took a handoff around left end on the first play for seven to the Tide 27. On the next play, McCarron rolled right end passed to Norwood who spun out of a tackle for a 25-yard gain to the Irish 48. McCarron then threw a six-yard curl to Cooper that the wide out turned into an 11-yard gain to the Irish 37. Yeldon was stopped for a loss of two on first down to the Irish 39. Yeldon gained six on second down up the middle to set up third-and-six at the Irish 34. McCarron then passed to Cooper on a deep post that reached the Irish six-yard line, a 28-yard gain. From there, Yeldon carried at left guard for five yards to the Irish on to set up a second-and-goal from the one as the first quarter ended.
Alabama’s first quarter dominance was impressive. The Tide outgained the Irish by a 202 to 23 margin in total offense while averaging 9.2 yards per play, rushing 13 times for 90 yards (6.9 yards per rush) and completing eight of nine pass attempts for 112 yards (14 yards per completion). Alabama controlled the ball for 12:08 of the first period (to Notre Dame’s 2:02).
Yeldon opened the second period by taking a handoff from McCarron and following center Barrett Jones into the end zone for a touchdown with 14:56 left in the second quarter. Alabama had a 21-0 lead following Shelley’s kick.
Notre Dame took over at its 25 after a touchback on the kickoff. On the first play, Golson passed complete to DaVaris Daniels for 31 yards to the Alabama 44. After an incompletion, Riddick was stopped for no gain to set up third-and-10. Golson scrambled from the pocket to rush for five yards to set up fourth-and-five at the Tide 39. Notre Dame went for the first down on a deep pass to TJ Jones that was batted away by Deion Belue to end the possession and give Alabama the ball at its 39 with 13:20 left in the half.
After an incomplete pass on first down, Lacy was stopped for a two-yard loss on a run at the left side to set up third-and-12 at the Alabama 37. An 18-yard completion to Norwood to the Irish 45 was negated by a holding penalty that moved the ball to the Alabama 27, setting up third-and-22. McCarron scrambled for nine yards on third down to set up a punt at the Tide 36.
Notre Dame started its possession at the Irish eight following muff on the punt. Riddick took a handoff and raced through a big hole in the middle for a 20-yard gain to the Irish 28. HaHa Clinton-Dix blitzed and stuff Riddick for a two-yard loss on first down before Golson passed to Jones for nine yards to the Irish 35, setting up third down and three. Golson ran for two yards on the play to set up fourth-and-one at the Irish 37. The Irish punted and Christion Jones fair caught the punt to set up Alabama at the Tide 13.
On the first play from the Tide 13, Lacy bounced outside right end and gained 17 yards to the Tide 30. Lacy then took a handoff off left tackle and gained five yards to the 35. McCarron then passed to Williams for six yards and a first down at the Tide 41. A pass to a wide-open Lacy in the flat was dropped on first down. McCarron then passed incomplete under pressure to set up third-and-10 at the Tide 41. McCarron threw deep for Cooper who was behind the Irish defense on a fly pattern, but the pass was barely beyond Cooper’s reach inside the five-yard line. Cody Mandell’s 55-yard punt was fielded by Notre Dame’s DaVaris Neal at the Irish four-yard line and Neal was immediately tackled by Landon Collins at that spot.
Golson to Eifert for 11 to the Irish 15. Riddick rushed for four yards. Golson to Daniels for 17 to the Irish 32. Golson pass incomplete. Golson passed to Eifert for seven yards to the Irish 39. On third-and-three, Golson was forced out of the pocket on a pass play and sacked by Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard for a loss of five, setting up an Irish punt from the Notre Dame 34.
Alabama set up at its 29 after a fair catch of the Irish punt with 3:43 left in the half. The Tide proceeded to drive 71 yards in nine plays to a touchdown. Yeldon carried for two yards at left tackle. On second-and-eight at the 31, Yeldon rushed for 10 yards to the Tide 41. A pass was incomplete on first down. On second down Yeldon took a handoff at left guard for seven yards to the Tide 48. On third-and-three, Yeldon struggled out of a tackle in the backfield and rushed off the left side for 10 yards and a first down at the Irish 42. McCarron then hit Yeldon on a screen pass that was stopped for no gain. Lacy then carried for four yards to the 38 where Alabama called timeout with 46 seconds left in the half. After the timeout, McCarron hit Christion Jones on a fade route for 27 yards to the Irish 11-yard line. On the next play, McCarron passed to Lacy on a short route in the middle of the field and Lacy did the rest, catching the ball at the Irish four-yard line and spinning off two tacklers for an 11-yard touchdown. Shelley’s kick gave Alabama a 28-0 lead with 31 seconds remaining in the half.
Lacy ended the half with 96 yards rushing while McCarron completed 12 of 18 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Alabama outgained Notre Dame in the first half by a 309 to 124 margin, including a balanced 153 rushing yards and 156 passing yards, while holding the Irish to 31 rushing yards. The Tide had a 16-5 edge in first downs while converting six of eight third downs into first downs and controlling the ball for 19:46 of the half.
Notre Dame received the second half kickoff and took possession at its own 25 following a touchback. The Irish marched to the Tide 36 before a Golson pass was intercepted by Clinton-Dix at the sidelines on the Tide 3 with 13:11 left in the third quarter. The following 97-yard drive clinched it.
Lacy opened the ensuing possession with rushes of four and 16 yards to move the Tide to the 23-yard line. McCarron then passed to Norwood in the right flat for 12 yards to the 35 before Yeldon carried for six yards to the Tide 41. McCarron hit Christion Jones on a quick slant for 13 yards to the Irish 46 and a first down. Yeldon carried off left guard for five yards before carrying for three more at left tackle to set up third-and-two at the Irish 38. Lacy then rushed for one on third-and-two to set up fourth-and-one at the Irish 37. Lacy the took a handoff at left guard for three yards and a first down at the Irish 34 from where McCarron play-faked and passed to a wide-open Cooper on a deep flag route for a touchdown and a 35-0 Alabama lead with 7:34 left in the third quarter.
The touchdown pass, the 48th of McCarron’s career, gave McCarron the Alabama record for touchdown passes in a career. For Cooper, it was his 10th touchdown catch of the season, tying Al Lary’s school record for receiving touchdowns in a season set in 1950.
Notre Dame responded with a touchdown drive on the next possession, driving 85 yards in nine plays to the score. Golson completed four of six passes for 73 yards and ended the drive with a two-yard touchdown run. Kyle Brindza’s extra-point kick narrowed the Alabama lead to 35-7 with 4:08 left in the third quarter.
Alabama extended the lead to 42-7 with an 86-yard drive in 14 plays. A 19-yard pass from McCarron to Cooper capped the drive. The drive consumed 7:41 of game time and was started by rushing plays of eight, three, 10 and six yards by Yeldon before Lacy rushed for six and four yards. McCarron and Cooper connected for 10 yards to a first down at the Irish 49 as the third quarter ended. After a Lacy rush lost three yards, McCarron passed for five yards to H back Kelly Johnson, eight yards to Michael Williams to the Irish 39, and seven yards to Shinn to the Irish 32 before Lacy rushed for 13 to the Irish 19. That set up the scoring pass to Cooper on a slant across the middle of the Irish defense with 11:27 left in the game.
Notre Dame added a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, marching 75 yards in 10 plays to score on a six-yard pass from Golson to Riddick that narrowed the Alabama lead to 42-14 with 7:51 remaining in the game.