Monday night's BCS National Championship Game was billed as a dream matchup featuring two of college football's most storied programs, each in search of a title with a different purpose. No. 1 Notre Dame was seeking a return to college football's elite, playing in its first title game since 1988. No. 2 Alabama was looking to earn its third national championship in four years and cement coach Nick Saban and its senior class among the nation's dynasty programs.
When it was all over, Alabama (13-1) had dismantled Notre Dame 42-14 on its way to its second consecutive national championship and helped further bolster the argument that the SEC is the nation's premier conference.
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy had two first-half touchdowns, and junior quarterback AJ McCarron was 20-of-29 for 264 yards and four TDs to lead Alabama past Notre Dame (12-1) in front of a record 80,120 at Sun Life Stadium. The previous record had been set during the 2009 BCS title game between Florida and Oklahoma (78,468).
The SEC has now won seven consecutive BCS national championships.
Alabama tallied up 529 total yards, 265 rushing.
Notre Dame had given up just 19 total points since Nov. 3; it gave up 28 in one half Monday night. Alabama led 28-0 at the half in a completely dominating performance: 153 rushing yards, 156 passing, four touchdowns.
The Irish were allowing just 92.4 rushing yards per game and had given up two rushing touchdowns all season, but that all went by the wayside quickly against Alabama.
Notre Dame won the toss and deferred to the second half. Five plays into the game, Alabama had gone 82 yards, capped by a 20-yard touchdown run by Lacy, the game's offensive MVP. And just like that, in 2:57, the Tide was up 7-0. It was the first touchdown drive of more than 75 yards the Irish had given up all season. That drive was aided by two costly penalties against the Irish, a facemask and offsides for a total of 20 yards.
Notre Dame appeared to catch a break on Alabama's next possession when Christion Jones fumbled a punt, but officials called interference on the Irish, giving the ball back to Alabama with 11:03 remaining in the first quarter. The Tide went on to score on a 3-yard pass from McCarron to Michael Williams with 4:49 left in the quarter for a 14-0 lead.
Entering the game, one of Notre Dame's biggest concerns was stopping the Tide's running game led by Lacy and freshman T.J. Yeldon, who had combined for 2,485 yards this season. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said if the Irish couldn't stop the run, it might be a long night for Notre Dame. He was right.
Lacy and Yeldon combined for 144 first-half rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
The dismantling of the nation's No. 1 and only undefeated team came in all phases: missed tackles and the inability of Notre Dame's defensive backs to adequately cover the Tide's receivers. Notre Dame consistently attempted to complete passes one-on-one against Dee Milliner, Alabama's top defensive back. And the much-anticipated battle between Alabama's offensive line and Notre Dame's front seven went to the Tide's veteran offensive line, led by center Barrett Jones.
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]