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Monday, January 7, 2013
Demoralizing first half for Irish

By Matt Fortuna

MIAMI -- Notre Dame is down 28-0 to Alabama at halftime. The "S-E-C!" chants are out. And -- something that I find worse than anything else -- fifth-year senior captain Kapron Lewis-Moore had to be helped off the field after suffering what looked like a very painful right-knee injury.

It is ugly, and there is no sign of letting up.

Yes, possibly the worst call in national title-game history happened on the game's first punt, when Notre Dame recovered a Christion Jones fumble and the officials threw an illegal contact flag even though it was another Tide player who bumped into Jones. But there is no mistaking that Alabama is taking it right to Notre Dame, from T.J. Yeldon turning a Manti Te'o missed backfield tackle into a 10-yard gain, to Eddie Lacy tossing Danny Spond aside and getting a five-yard rush.

Notre Dame's defense was supposed to give it a chance. It surrendered just more than 10 points per game this season, the best in the nation. Instead it surrendered touchdowns on the game's first three drives, and the offense has not done much to keep it off the field.

Alabama is outgaining Notre Dame 309-124. The Tide have 153 rushing yards to the Irish's 31. They have dominated time of possession, holding it for 19 minutes, 46 seconds of the first half. They have held Notre Dame to 0-for-5 on third downs. The Irish have three penalties, too.

Notre Dame's improbable run to this night began with an unranked squad facing issues on both sides of the ball with a daunting slate ahead.

It will take something far more improbable during these next 30 minutes if the Irish wish to give themselves a chance in this Discover BCS National Championship.