By Joe Curci
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On Monday night, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame will take on the Alabama Crimson Tide.
It will be the highly-popular Independent football school against the commonly vilified SEC juggernaut. Nick Saban will look to pick up his fourth title and second in as many years. The question that has been on everyone’s mind is whether the Irish can compete with Alabama.
First you have to look at what both teams have accomplished during the season. Notre Dame went undefeated, with its biggest wins coming at Oklahoma and an overtime thriller at home against Stanford. They are ranked 1st in points allowed per game and went through a four-week stretch without allowing the opposing team to score an offensive touchdown. Manti Te’o has been the heart and soul of the Irish defense, and he will need his team to rally behind him.
The Tide roll into Miami coming off yet another SEC championship title. They lost one game this season to Texas A&M, 29-24, at home. One could say it was a perfect storm. The week prior, Alabama came from behind to win at LSU in a primetime rematch of last year’s championship game. Johnny Manziel was in the midst of putting together a Heisman Trophy-winning season. Perhaps tired legs and a red-hot quarterback were enough that day to give Alabama their one and only loss of the year.
Being tired will not be an excuse tonight. It’s been six weeks since the Irish have taken the field and five for Alabama. In terms of layoff, advantage Alabama. Forget the physical state of the players. Give Saban five weeks to prepare and scheme to shut down an offense, and all you have to do is replay last year’s title game to see the results. LSU had 92 total yards and only five first downs in the entire game.
Game Preview And Prediction: How Each Team Can Win
It’s easy to look at this game and tout the tremendous defense of Notre Dame, but it’s going to come down to the Irish’s offense and their ability to make plays that will determine who will win this game. If the Irish can’t get productivity from Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood it could be a long evening for Notre Dame. Everett Golson cannot afford to make any mistakes.
Forget turnovers — he can’t miss an open receiver.
Breakdown: Alabama QB/WRs Vs. Notre Dame Secondary
In the end it will be up to Golson and AJ McCarron to lead their respective team to victory. The first one who falters could end up costing their team the game. I think Notre Dame’s defense is good enough to keep things close, and don’t put it past Brian Kelly to call for some trick plays to keep the Tide on their toes. At the end of the day, Alabama will just be too much, and the luck will finally run out for the Irish.
PICK: Alabama 24, Notre Dame 13
Is Notre Dame’s offense good enough to stay with the Tide? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…