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Alabama crushes Notre Dame, 42-14, for second straight BCS title

Alabama has won its third Bowl Championship Series title in four years, overwhelming top-ranked Notre Dame, 42-14, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Coach Nick Saban’s teams have won four national championships. He won his first as coach at Louisiana State.

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Former Alabama Coach Bear Bryant won six national titles.

Notre Dame came into the game unbeaten but still a nine-point underdog. And it was a far bigger mismatch than that.

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Alabama dominated from the start Monday night, scoring touchdowns on its first three possessions against a Notre Dame defense that was giving up a national-best 10.3 yards per game.

AJ McCarron, who became the first quarterback in the BCS era to win back-to-back national titles as a starter, completed 20 of 28 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target was freshman Amari Cooper, who had six catches for 105 yards and a touchdown.

The Crimson Tide rolled on the ground, too, while stuffing Notre Dame’s running back.

Alabama rushed for 265 yards and two touchdowns against a defense that had given up an average of 92.4 yards and had surrendered two rushing touchdowns all season before tonight.

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Eddie Lacy ran for 140 yards and a touchdown in 20 carries. T.J. Yeldon carried 21 times for 108 yards and a touchdown.

Meantime, Notre Dame’s run attack was next to non existent. The Irish ran for 32 yards in 19 carries.

Quarterback Everett Golson did what he could for the Irish, completing 21 of 36 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown with one interception while scrambling for his life. He also ran for a touchdown.

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It was tough to tell who was more upset during Alabama’s last possession, Coach Nick Saban or quarterback AJ McCarron.

All over one play.

Saban was screaming at the officials -- the Pac-12’s best -- after a delay of game penalty was called just after McCarron screamed at his roommate, All-American center Barrett Jones, for not snapping the ball.

After play was blown dead, McCarron contined to bark at best-buddy Jones, who turned on him and gave him a shove.

If only Notre Dame was that competitive against Alabama’s offense.

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Alabama 42, Notre Dame 14 (7:51 left in fourth quarter)

Considering the circumstances, Everett Golson is playing pretty well for Notre Dame.

He has completed 21 of 35 passes while scrambling for his life, and he’s accounted for both Irish touchdowns.

He connected with Theo Riddick on a six-yard scoring pass for Notre Dame’s latest score. He ran for two yards and the Irish’s first touchdown.

Golson has passed for 270 yards.

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This is not quite the biggest rout in BCS title game history. But it’s close. And it counts.

Alabama leads Notre Dame, 42-7, with 9:46 left to play in the fourth quarter.

The title game’s biggest rout was after the 2004 season when USC, led by Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart,  crushed Oklahoma, 55-19.

Of course, USC vacated that victory as part of NCAA sanctioned when Bush was found to have received extra benefits.

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Alabama 42, Notre Dame 7 (11:27 to play in fourth quarter)

AJ McCarron was considered a facilitator last season when Alabama won its title. He was a quarterback who wouldn’t lose the Tide a game.

He’s far better than that now.

McCarron has completed 20 of 27 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns -- the last a 19-yard scoring pass to Amari Cooper.

Alabama has 502 yards of offense.

Cooper, a freshman, has six catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

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So, given that Notre Dame was completely overmatched in tonight’s game, how might an Alabama vs. Oregon game have gone?

Alabama has way too much speed for Notre Dame.

Oregon, of course, is faster than Alabama. And Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota compares favorably with Johnny Manziel, who gave Alabama fits in the Tide’s loss this season.

But Oregon would have to deal with Alabama’s power.

This much we pretty much know: It would have been a better game.

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Coach Nick Saban steered clear of dynasty talk in the weeks leading up to tonight’s game, but it’s clear that Alabama is going to come away with its third national title in four years.

The Tide leads, 35-7 going into the fourth quarter.

And two of the stars have been freshman.

T.J. Yeldon has run 17 times for 89 yards and a touchdown.

Amari Cooper has a game-best five catches for 86 yards, including a spectacular grab and toe dance along the sideline on Alabama’s current drive.

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Alabama 35, Notre Dame 7 (4:08 left in third quarter)

Notre Dame will not be shut out.

The Irish scored on a two-yard run by quarterback Everett Golson that capped a nine-play, 85-yard drive.

Notre Dame capitalized on a couple of breaks to finally score.

The first came on a third-and-16 play when T.J. Jones was credited with a 31-yard catch along the sideline, even though it appeared very questionable that he controlled the ball before going out of bounds.

It was Notre Dame’s first third-down conversion of the game.

The Irish also benefitted from a question roughing the passer call when Alabama defensive back Geno Smith was called for making contact with Golson’s facemask just after he threw a pass. Smith, on a blitz, leaped trying to bat down the pass and when he came down his helmet barely brushed Golson’s facemask.

Were it a closer game, we’re thinking Nick Saban might have thrown a fit about the call.

As it is, oh well. No shutout.

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Alabama kicker Jeremy Shelley is busy again.

He’s made five kicks in this national title game after making five last year.

The difference: The kicks last year were field goals of 23, 34, 41, 35 and 44 yards.

The five this year are extra points.

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Alabama 35, Notre Dame 0 (7:34 left in third quarter)

Remember Nick Saban talking about how much he liked Alabama’s balance in the first half.

Yeah, well, he has more to like in the second half.

Alabama has driven 97 yards in 10 plays -- four runs by Eddie Lacy, three by T.J. Yeldon and three passes, all completed, by AJ McCarron.

McCarron, who has now passed for 215 yards, connected with Amari Cooper on a 34-yard scoring pass.

Cooper was wide open after starting out wide left and crossing all the way over to the right side of the field.

McCarron has completed 15 of 21 passes. Lacy has run for 120 yards in 16 carries. Cooper has four receptions for 76 yards.

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Notre Dame showed some life on its first possession of the second half as quarterback Everett Golson completed a couple of passes and Theo Riddick made a couple of runs.

But Alabama got the last laugh.

Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dixon made a leaping interception of a tipped pass at the Alabama three yard line.

Golson’s pass down the sideline was intended for DeVaris Daniels, but he was well covered by Tide corner back Dee Milliner, who tipped the ball just high enough for Clinton-Dixon to swoop in.

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Some halftime statistics:

Alabama has a 309-124 advantage in total yardage.

Tide quarterback AJ McCarron has passed for 156 yards and two touchdowns, completing 12 of 18 passes and connecting with seven different receivers.

Eddie Lacy is averaging eight yards per carry with 96 yards in 12 carries. T.J. Yeldon has run 10 times for 48 yards.

For Notre Dame Everett Golson has completed eight of 16 for 93 yards. Theo Riddick is the leading rusher with 22 yards in five carries.

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More from the Sun-Sentinel:

A variety of celebrities, high-profile former college players, current star college athletes and coaches were on hand for the game. The list included Vince Vaughn, Martin Short, Regis Philbin, Jon Bon Jovi, Jerome Bettis, Trent Richardson, Mark Ingram, Johnny Manziel, Urban Meyer, Gino Torretta, Joe Theismann, Eddie George, Jimmy Clausen and Brady Quinn.

Notre Dame fans booed Manziel when he was honored pregame, likely because they wanted star Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o to win the Heisman Trophy. Te’o finished second behind Manziel.

Add to note:

And Manziel will remain the only quarterback in the stadium to have defeated Alabama this season.

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Alabama Coach Nick Saban in a halftime television interview:

“We played well offensively. We’re controlled the line of scrimmage. We have good balance. That’s what you want to have. Defensively, we’re doing a pretty good job. They hit a couple of plays on us, but we’ve  just got to play 60 minutes in a game, This game is not over and our players got to understand that.”

Comments:

Your defense is doing a “pretty good” job? Notre Dame has gained 124 yards and hasn’t converted a third-down play.

“This game is not over.” Really? Sure looks like it.

From Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly:

“It’s all Alabama. We can’t tackle them right now and who knows why. They’re big and physical. I guess I do know why. Our guys have not tackled the way we have all year.... Credit Alabama. They played a great first half. We’ve gotta go in there and get after it and play with some pride in the second half and try get this thing closer so we can try to find a way to win.”

Comment:

Good luck with that.

Alabama 28, Notre Dame 0 (halftime)

Any chance Alabama would back off up three touchdowns and with the ball at its own 29 with less than four minutes to play in the half?

Uh, no.

The Tide drove 71 yards in nine plays to score with 31 seconds left.

Alabama’s 28 points at halftime surpasses the previous high of 26 points Notre Dame gave up in a game this season. That was accomplished by Pittsburgh -- in triple overtime.

For the record, Eddie Lacy can catch -- and run after he catches it, too.

He pulled in a short pass from AJ McCarron and made a nice run after the reception for the score.

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This from Craig Davis, from The Times’s sister newspaper in Orlando, the Sun-Sentinel:

Nick Saban searched for the perfect film that would put his team in the best mindset leading up to Monday’s BCS National Championship Game.

He didn’t want his players to focus on the historical implications of a huge win for the Crimson Tide.

Dynasty is a dirty word in the Saban camp, regardless of how well it fits his program.

He ultimately opted show his team the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” in a private screening the night before taking on the Fighting Irish, according to ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi.

Saban told reporters he showed last year’s Alabama team “Red Tails” before the Tide won the BCS title.

He said it was important to strike the right tone before taking the field.

“The message was the honor of being all that you can be — that maybe that might be more important than winning or losing — and that your focus should be on that instead of the outcome,” Saban said.

Comment: “Zero Dark Thirty”?

Possible third-quarter score?

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Notre Dame is 0 for 5 on third-down conversion tries.

The Irish’s last possession started on their own four yard line and a couple of Everett Golson passes gave Notre Dame some breathing room.

But the Irish couldn’t sustain the drive and a scrambling Everett Golson was sacked by Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard on a third-and-three play.

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Alabama converted on its first four third-down plays, but has missed on its last two.

Kind of, and barely.

Its first miss came after a penalty nullified a completed third-down pass.

On its last drive, Alabama went deep on third-and-10, with AJ McCarron ever-so-slightly overthrowing Amari Cooper, who had broken open down the middle of the field.

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Notre Dame’s highly regarded defense gave up an average of 92.4 yards rushing per game this season.

Alabama’s Eddie Lacy has 92 yards in 11 carries midway through the second quarter.

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Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron may be experiencing a cramp in the lower part of his right leg.

Tide trainers were working on him while Notre Dame had the ball – which, of course, wasn’t long.

But when the Alabama offense took the field again, McCarron was with them.

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Notre Dame’s defense finally held Alabama scoreless on a drive.

With a little help.

On a third-and-12 play, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron connected with Kevin Norwood for an apparent first down.

But Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio was called for holding on the play -- even though Notre Dame rushed only two and dropped nine players into coverage.

On third-and-22, McCarron scrambled for a short gain and the Tide was forced to punt for the first time.

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You think Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly is feeling a little desperate?

The Fighting Irish just went for it on fourth-and-five from the Alabama 39.

And who could blame them? At least Notre Dame passed midfield -- thanks to a 31-yard gain on a pass from Everett Golson to DaVaris Daniels.

But on fourth down, Golson threw long toward TJ Jones and the pass was broken up by Alabama’s Deion Belue, who was in perfect position.

So Alabama takes over at its own 39. Buckle up.

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AJ McCarron is well on his way to accomplishing a first.

No college quarterback in the BCS era has been the starter for back-to-back national champions.

McCarron has completed eight of nine passes for 112 yards and a touchdown.

Alabama has outgained Notre Dame 203 yards to 23.

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Alabama 21, Notre Dame 0 (14:55 left in second quarter)

Alabama established early that it could pound Notre Dame inside the tackles with smash-mouth runs by Eddie Lacy.

Now quarterback AJ McCarron and the Tide’s receiving corps is proving the Irish are no match outside the tackles, either.

McCarron completed passes for gains of 25, 11 and 27 yards as Alabama drove 80 yards in eight plays.

Lacy, who accounted for the Tide’s first two touchdowns on runs, wasn’t even needed. Instead, Alabama turned to freshman T.J. Yeldon, who carried five times for 17 yards on the march.

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Too bad this is the season’s final game instead of a playoff semifinal.

If Alabama continues to dominate, you might expect Oregon -- not Notre Dame -- to be ranked No. 2 in the final polls of the season.

And who wouldn’t want to watch that matchup?

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Chris Dufresne points out that the Rose Bowl was played in a crisp 3 hours 6 minutes with a Big East Conference officiating crew working the game.

We can only hope for that tonight with a Pac-12 crew already prompting a couple of reviews.

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This game almost got a little more out of hand.

On Notre Dame’s second play, tight end Tyler Eifert caught an Everett Golson pass but was stripped of the ball by Alabama defensive back Robert Lester at the Fighting Irish 28.

The officials ruled a fumble, but a video replay showed Eifert’s right knee was down before the ball came out.

It’s important Notre Dame puts some kind of drive together, because Alabama has already surpassed the 10.33 points per game given up by the Irish’s top-ranked defense.

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Alabama 14, Notre Dame 0 (6:14 left in first quarter)

Manti Te’o and the rest of the Notre Dame defense is doing a lot of turning and chasing.

Two Alabama possessions, two touchdowns.

AJ McCarron, after a convincing fake of a handoff into the middle of the line, hit wide open tight end Michael Williams with a three-yard scoring pass to complete a 10-play, 61-yard march.

The score came on the play after Eddie Lacy broke loose for a 20-yard gain on a third-and-one play.

Lacy already has run for 72 yards in eight carries.

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First controversial call of the title game -- and remember, these are Pac-12 officials, so there are likely to be more:

Notre Dame punted, Alabama’s Christion Jones made a late signal for a fair catch, and the ball was knocked loose.

Alabama picked up 15 yards when Notre Dame was penalized for not giving Jones room to catch the ball.

However, it looked like Alabama’s Deion Belue was crowding Jones every bit as much as Notre Dame’s Matthias Farley, who drew the flag.

Alabama now driving again.

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Everett Golson is the kind of athletic ability -- as much of a threat to run as pass -- that gave the Alabama trouble in its loss to Texas A&M; and Johnny Manziel (who is in attendance).

And Golson has been getting better as the season has gone on.

In his first six games, he threw for six touchdowns with seven turnovers.

In Notre Dame’s last five games he has 10 touchdowns and two turnovers.

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Alabama 7, Notre Dame 0 (12:03 left in first quarter)

It took Alabama all of five plays -- aided by a couple of penalties -- to finish off the longest scoring drive of the season against Notre Dame.

The Tide marched 82 yards on its first possession. The longest drive against Notre Dame to that point was 75 yards.

Eddie Lacy scored on a 20-yard run. He had 31 yards in three carries on the drive.

Alabama also picked up 29 yards on a pass from AJ McCarron to Kevin Norwood.

The Crimson Tide benefited from a 15-yard facemask penalty on Notre Dame inside linebacker Dan Fox and an offside penalty.

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USC, top ranked in the preseason, didn’t make the BCS title game -- not by a long shot.

Oregon, because of a late-season loss to Stanford, didn’t get there, either.

But the Pac-12 is represented.

By the officiating crew.

Would Oklahoma approve?

This is the crew:

Referee: Land Clark.

Umpire: Francisco Villar.

Head Linesman: Patrick Turner.

Field Judge:Devin Kieser.

SideJudge: Aaron Santi.

Line Judge: Randy Campbell.

Back Judge: Brad Robinson.

Replay Official: Fred Gallagher.

Communicator: Chuck McFerrin.

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Notre Dame won tonight’s coin toss -- Alabama called tails and it landed heads -- and elected to defer.

Alabama gets the ball first.

A.J. McCarron, with a 24-2 record as a starter, will be at the controls for the Alabama offense.

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Outlined against orange seats and mostly cloudy nighttime skies, Notre Dame rides again.

The Fighting Irish seek their 12th consensus national title on Monday night — the first since 1988.

Notre Dame, if it wins, will hoist its first BCS crystal championship football.

Anyone know what year Notre Dame won its first national title and what organization awarded the title to the fighting Irish?

Hint: there were “horsemen” involved.

The answer is 1924 and the organization was the Helms Athletic Foundation.

Interestingly, legendary coach Knute Rockne was already in his seventh season in South Bend when Notre Dame capped a 10-0 season in 1924 with a win over Pop Warner-coached Stanford in the Rose Bowl.

Notre Dame would not play in another bowl game until the 1970 Cotton.

The 1924 team was led, of course, by the Four Horsemen, who didn’t become famous until a late-season win over Army at the Polo Grounds inspired the famous opening lines by sportswriter Grantland Rice.

“Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as famine, pestilence, destruction and death....”

Everyone knows about the Four Horsemen, but Rockne also utilized two other “nickname” units during the year.

Notre Dame’s blocking line was called “The Seven Mules” while his second unit was known as “The Shock Troops.”

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This evening’s national championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama marks the second-to-last Bowl Championship Series title game. Next year, the Rose Bowl will double host, with its game on Jan. 1 and the last BCS title game on Jan. 6, 2014.

“The sun is setting on the BCS era and the playoff era will begin in just over a year,” BCS Executive Director  Bill Hancock said Monday at the annual meeting of the Football Writers Assn. of America. “The fans wanted change and we’re changing.”

What exactly does change mean?

Good question. Some of the details for the four-team playoff are starting to take shape.

Here’s how it will work: A selection committee of 15 to 18 members will replace the BCS standings and choose the top four teams.

“It will be the most prestigious committee in college sports,” Hancock said. "And it will be the most scrutinized committee in college sports.”

Six major bowls will be involved in the four-team playoff. The three definitely involved are the Rose, Sugar and Orange. The other three will likely be the Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-fil-A. Each bowl will host four semifinal games over the course of the 12-year contract.

The Rose and Sugar bowls will not move off their normal Jan. 1 slots. They will host their traditional games in years they are not hosting a semifinal.

The semifinals in other years are likely to be played on New Year’s Eve. The rotation order has not been finalized.

The yet-to-be-named championship game will be opened up to the highest bidder, with the Cotton Bowl likely getting the first game in 2015. The game will be rotated in a Super Bowl-type fashion. Hancock said  “12 to 15" cities have already expressed interest.

An existing BCS bowl site could make a bid for the championship game. In those years the bowls would host two games.

Hancock said more details could be finalized at this year’s BCS spring meetings in Pasadena.

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Dufresne is reporting from Miami Gardens, Fla.; Hiserman from Los Angeles.

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