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Alabama steamrolls Notre Dame 42-14 in BCS title game

Brian Kelly

Brian Kelly

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Updated: February 9, 2013 6:27AM

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Notre Dame running back Theo Riddick sat at his locker stall, a towel draped over his head, his shoulders quivering and tears dripping to the floor as he stared straight down.

He tried to speak, to express the emotions of the Irish’s 42-14 loss Monday night to Alabama in the BCS national championship game, but he couldn’t get the words out through the sobs.

This one hurt for Notre Dame on so many levels. It hurt because of the stage, because of the hype, because of all the significance attached to the Irish’s surprising and stirring run through a perfect season. It hurt because it marked the end of so many college careers, including those of Riddick and linebacker Manti Te’o, the heart and soul of Irish football.

But mostly it hurt because of the sheer brutality of it, the speed with which a season’s worth of blood and sweat evaporated in barely more than a quarter, the humbling result of the Crimson Tide’s third BCS title-game victory in four years.

Notre Dame had no fight, and Alabama handed the Irish their only loss of the season and sullied one of the more remarkable and rejuvenating seasons in the glory-drenched history of the school.

‘‘This is a tough one,’’ Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin said. ‘‘And it’s going to take awhile to get over.’’

The Southeastern Conference earned its seventh consecutive national championship, and all the South’s bragging and trash talk was validated. The Tide and its historically great offensive line made the Irish’s front seven look worse than ordinary and made a mockery of the gaudy stats Notre Dame’s defense had put up all season. The Irish were beaten and embarrassed in every facet of the game.

Alabama tailback Eddie Lacy spun his way out of tackle after tackle as he racked up 140 yards and a touchdown. Tide quarterback AJ McCarron completed 20 of 28 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns, two to Amari Cooper. And Notre Dame’s front seven was manhandled from start to finish, though nose guard Louis Nix III vehemently disputed the notion.

‘‘They did not dominate,’’ Nix insisted. ‘‘We just didn’t play our ballgame; we just didn’t make tackles. Everything we did or had lined up should have worked, but we didn’t make tackles. That’s the ballgame.’’

There were indeed plenty of missed tackles, but it sure looked like domination. This one was over at halftime. The Irish hadn’t given up more than 26 points all season — and that came in three overtimes against Pittsburgh — but Alabama led 28-0 at the half.

Notre Dame hadn’t given up more than 161 rushing yards in a game all season, but the Tide had 153 at the half and 265 in the game.

The Irish offense had averaged 202 rushing yards per game, but it had only 32 against Alabama.

And the vaunted Notre Dame defense entered the game having yielded a scant two rushing touchdowns and no drive longer than 75 yards all season, but the Tide took the opening kickoff and marched 82 yards in five plays (aided by two penalties), with Lacy gashing the middle of the defense for a 20-yard touchdown run.

One drive later, it was 14-0. Another drive, 21-0. Halftime,
28-0. Early in the third quarter, 35-0. By the time Everett Golson plunged in from two yards out late in the third and added a six-yard touchdown pass to Riddick midway through the fourth, it was all just window dressing.

Golson was 21-for-36 for 270 yards, a touchdown and a tipped interception. But the way the Alabama offense was rumbling, it hardly mattered what the Notre Dame offense did.

It was the most points scored against the Irish in a bowl game and one final indignity in a dream season that ended with a crushing dose of reality: It’s still the SEC’s world, and Notre Dame still has a way to go before it can reclaim it.

‘‘We’re close,’’ Te’o said when asked if the Irish are back. ‘‘Obviously, we’re not there. If we were there, we would be holding the crystal ball.’’

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