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Sorry, Notre Dame, but Alabama is in another league

Eddie Lacy

Eddie Lacy

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Updated: February 9, 2013 6:27AM



MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — If you’re a Notre Dame fan, you need to be open to the possibility that God has taken to wearing red plaid pants.

It’s either that or admit your team had no business being in the national championship game.

Alabama is in a different league when it comes to football, that league looking suspiciously like the NFL. No college team could have beaten the Crimson Tide in the BCS title game Monday night, but it’s fair to ask how many programs would have put up a better fight than the Fighting Irish did inside Sun Life Stadium. Five? Ten? More?

That’s one of the many questions we were left to ponder while the Tide was crushing Notre Dame 42-14.

If the Irish had been asked about their worst nightmare heading into the title game, it’s hard to believe they would have come up with anything as brutally horrific as what happened Monday night. But it became readily apparent a play or two into Alabama’s victory that one side had men, and, boy, was the other side overmatched.

The front seven was supposed to be a strength for the Irish in this game, but Alabama’s offense bulldozed it at the line of scrimmage. A 20-yard touchdown run by Eddie Lacy on the first drive set the tone. You would have had to dust for fingerprints to see if he had been touched on the play.

“That was most surprising to me, that we were able to control the line of scrimmage,’’ Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “… I think their guys got a little tired early in the game.’’

Size, speed, coaching — you name it, Alabama had more of it. It was like a 13-year-old with five o’clock shadow lining up against a 10-year-old who suddenly realizes he would prefer to be doing homework, eating his vegetables or being grounded for a month.

“That’s what [a national champion] looks like,’’ Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “Measure yourself against that, and it was pretty clear across the board what we have to do. I don’t want to minimize the fact that we’ve made incredible strides to get to this point. Now it’s pretty clear what we have to do to get over the top.’’

The Irish had luck on their side this season, and they don’t need to apologize for it. But luck had no chance against Alabama. I’m not sure the Jacksonville Jaguars would have had a chance against Alabama.

The Irish could have brought a tractor-trailer full of miracles and shamrocks with them, and it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference. This wasn’t Pittsburgh, BYU or Stanford. This was a nasty team in hot pursuit of history.

Alabama has won three of the last four national titles, including two straight. That D word? Dynasty? It’s OK to say it, even if Saban and his hermetically zipped lips struggled with it.

“I don’t think words like dynasties are words I’m interested in,’’ Saban said. “I’m worried about accomplishments.’’

A real accomplishment? Saban admitting, “Whether I look like it or not, I’m happy as hell.’’

Notre Dame football appears to be back as a national power, but it’s hard to say that definitively after what happened here. That’s what Alabama does. It reduces teams to rubble, makes them have crises of confidence. It’s where the Irish are right now, wondering what the hell just happened. Even now, it’s hard to believe Notre Dame came into this game as the No. 1 team in the nation, with Alabama second.

“They were absolutely, by far, the fastest, biggest, strongest team we have played,’’ ND linebacker Danny Spond said.

The Irish rushed for only 32 yards. Lacy ran for 140 yards, and teammate T.J. Yeldon had 108. That would be your ballgame right there.

The last time Notre Dame won a title was 1988. That’s still how the school measures itself. So although this season might have been fun, it won’t be looked on as good enough.

“It definitely sucks, to be quite honest,’’ linebacker Manti Te’o said. “But I wouldn’t trade [the season] for anything.’’

This game will be looked on as an embarrassment that shouldn’t happen again. But that might depend on whether the Irish play Alabama again.



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