Alabama slammer! Tide hammers Notre Dame 42-14 for 3rd BCS National Championship in 4 years
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org January 7, 2013 10:42PM
Alabama players celebrate after the BCS National Championship college football game against Notre Dame Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, in Miami. Alabama won 42-14. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Updated: January 8, 2013 12:31AM
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Theo Riddick sat at his locker stall, hunched over, 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 Monday night’s 42-14 loss to Alabama in the BCS national championship game — of coming so far and falling so flat — but he couldn’t get the words out through the sobs.
This one hurt, on so many levels, for Notre Dame.
It hurt because of the stage, because of the hype, because of all the significance attached to Notre Dame’s surprising and stirring run through a perfect season. It hurt because it marked the end of so many careers, including that of Riddick, and of 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 year’s worth of blood and sweat evaporated in barely more than a quarter of play — the humbling nature of Alabama’s third title game victory in four years, and its second straight.
The Irish had no fight, and the Tide rolled, handing Notre Dame its only loss of the season and sullying one of the more remarkable and rejuvenating seasons in Notre Dame’s glory-drenched history.
“This is a tough one,” Irish tackle Zack Martin said. “And it’s going to take a while to get over.”
The Southeastern Conference got its seventh straight national championship, and all the South’s bragging and trash talk was
validated, as the Tide and its historically great offensive line made the ferocious Irish front seven look worse than ordinary, and made a mockery of the gaudy stats they had put up all season. The Irish were beaten and embarrassed in every facet of the game.
Tide tailback Eddie Lacy spun his way out of tackle after tackle — Te’o, whom coaches said had two missed tackles all season, missed four in the first half alone — as he racked up 140 yards and a touchdown. Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron, dismissed as a “game manager” by so many, completed 20-of-28 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns, two to Amari Cooper. And the Irish front seven was manhandled from start to finish, though nose guard Louis Nix III — who played through a heavy limp for much of the second half — vehemently disputed the notion.
“They did not dominate,” he 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 guess what, we didn’t make tackles. That’s the ballgame.”
There were indeed plenty of missed tackles — so uncharacteristic for the sure-handed Irish defense — 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. Yet Alabama had a 28-0 lead at the half. The Irish hadn’t given up more than 161 rushing yards in a game all season. Yet Alabama had 153 at the half, 265 in the game. The Irish offense had averaged 202 rushing yards per game. Yet they had 32 in the game.
That vaunted Irish defense, the one that put Notre Dame back atop the college football world, entered the game having yielded a scant two rushing touchdowns all season, and no drive longer than 75 yards. Yet Alabama took the opening kickoff and marched 82 yards in five plays (aided by two penalties), with Lacy gashing the middle of the Irish 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 2 yards out late in the third, and added a 6-yard TD pass to Riddick midway through the fourth, it was all just window dressing.
Golson, forced to pass more than Irish coach Brian Kelly would have liked, was 21-of-36 for 270 yards, a TD and a tipped interception. But the way the Tide offense was rumbling, it hardly mattered what the Irish offense did.
It was the most points ever scored against Notre Dame in a bowl game — one final indignity for the Irish, whose dream season 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 indeed “back.”
“Obviously, we’re not there. If we were there, we would be holding the crystal ball.”