Picking a national champion is no easy task

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AJ McCarron led the Tide to last year’s title; Everett Golson didn’t see any game action until winning the starting gig prior to this season.

Who do you think will win the Discover BCS National Championship Game and why?

Alabama lacks a weakness

By Melissa Isaacson

On paper, in simulated games and to anyone looking at this game objectively, Alabama wins every time.

Why? Basically, the Crimson Tide have no glaring weaknesses. That's not to say Monday night's national title game won't turn into the kind of grind-it-out affair Notre Dame has thrived on this season. But when it comes down to it, Alabama's running game will prevail.

It's difficult to be very moved by the notion of Alabama winning another title. But then, calling Notre Dame a Cinderella story is a tough sell as well. Maybe we just watch and hope for a competitive game, which at least it looks to be.

Notre Dame’s special season continues

By Kate Fagan

Notre Dame. Because it's just been that kind of season for the Irish. And for ESPN columnist Rick Reilly, who not only wrote this, but then turned around a few weeks later and wrote this. Yeah, the Irish are the underdogs, but that's seemed to work out well for them this season against Oklahoma, Michigan State and USC -- games in which they were the underdogs, at least in Reilly's opinion. Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson is going to have a big-time game.

But in truth, I'm looking forward to the start of the four-team playoff in 2014 as much as I'm looking forward to this particular title game. The more college football can become like college basketball, the better it is for the fans -- and for the mid-major programs that put together strong seasons.

Alabama will win ugly

By Michelle Smith

Alabama. It would be too easy to say the SEC always wins, but, well, they do. The Tide will be playing to win their third title in four years, against a Notre Dame team trying to recapture its glory days. The Tide have a punishing running game that will provide just enough offense. Alabama will prevail in a defensive struggle, a low-scoring game that might not be pretty, but will get the job done again for the Tide.

Picking with my taste buds

By Graham Hayes

Unless Skylar Diggins is playing for Notre Dame or Jackie Traina is pitching for Alabama, I have absolutely no credibility to make a prediction for a game between these two schools. I know far more about Notre Dame women's soccer coach Randy Waldrum’s reserves than the starters on the gridiron for either the Fighting Irish or Crimson Tide, so I’m going with my gut for Monday’s game.

And I mean that literally.

When it comes to barbecue, South Bend puts up a surprisingly good fight for a place that gets snow by the foot, particularly when it comes to the rib tips at Frankie’s, one of Diggins’ favorite spots in her hometown. But there is nothing like a late spring afternoon at Archibald’s in Tuscaloosa. You won’t find the place without the aid of a local, and even if you did, you wouldn’t recognize it as a business. A couple of stools inside, a picnic table outside and a whole lot of sweet-smelling smoke and Wonder Bread add up to a one-of-a-kind experience. And as a non-local, you're also sure to leave with some stains on your shirt by which to remember it.

I don’t know a thing about the football teams playing in Miami, so I’ll leave the actual analysis to the roughly 10,000 people down there covering the game. But I do have a decent handle on barbecue, and people in Alabama seem pretty adamant that they do two things better than anyone else: ribs and football. I'm sold on the former, so I’ll take their word for it on the latter. Alabama for the win.

Bama’s experience will win

By Sarah Spain

The Irish have a good shot to win if quarterback Everett Golson gets a chance to make plays with his feet, big-bodied tight end Tyler Eifert capitalizes on mismatches in the secondary and the defense slows down Bama QB AJ McCarron. The Tide will roll if McCarron can get in a rhythm with receiver Amari Cooper, running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon get room to run and the defense forces Golson to make bad decisions. I can see it going either way, but since I have to pick, I'm going with Bama. The difference will be the savvy of Nick Saban and the swagger that comes from having been there before.

No real winners in the current system

By Jane McManus

A BCS playoff can't get here soon enough. As Alabama and Notre Dame get set to play each other for all the glory college football can bestow, it may be worth remembering the system is a little rigged. Schools with money capitalize on fan and player loyalty while notifying a conference that they are leaving. Coaches parlay interviews with NFL teams into higher salaries, sometimes from state schools where they may be the highest-paid employee.

I have a hard time feeling very rah-rah about a sport that rakes in millions while asking athletes to essentially accept vouchers for college classes as payment, which allows a black market of agents and alumni money to corrupt the amateur ideal. And tonight the cash from television and boosters will be flowing.

If you can put all that aside, the postseason is set up to benefit a tradition of bowl games -- again, it's about the money -- rather than to discern the best teams from disparate conferences.

At least a playoff would address the competitive fairness.

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