Monday, January 7, 2013
Pregame: BCS National Championship
By Matt Fortuna
No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0, independent) vs. No. 2 Alabama (12-1, 7-1 SEC)
Who to watch: Keep an eye on Alabama All-American center Barrett Jones, who injured his left foot in the SEC title game against Georgia. If Jones is not close to 100 percent, Louis Nix and the rest of the Notre Dame defensive line likely will reveal that early and often. For Notre Dame, watch how quarterback Everett Golson handles the stage and the Tide's dominant defense. He has grown throughout this season, and how well he improvises could prove to be the difference Monday night.
What to watch: The key matchups will come in the trenches. Jones and Alabama's offensive line have been talked about in legendary terms; Notre Dame's defense leads the nation in scoring. The Irish likely will try to pressure quarterback AJ McCarron in a way that has not been done yet this season. If they can knock him around and force some errant throws early, they will have a strong chance at pulling off the upset.
Why to watch: This is the final game of the college football season, and it is for the crystal football trophy. It is also a matchup of two of America's most popular and historic programs. Will the SEC extend its national title stretch to seven straight years, or will Notre Dame solidify its return to the top of the college football world? No team has won consecutive BCS titles, and Tide coach Nick Saban will try to make it three in the past four years -- and four overall for him -- when he faces Brian Kelly and the Irish.