Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Alabama Crimson Tide
When: Monday, Jan. 7, 8:30 p.m.
Where: Sun Life Stadium (BCS Championship)
When Notre Dame started the season, the Fighting Irish were looking for respect. They were fighting to be relevant again in college football. The lack of accomplishments on the field, were weighing heavy on Notre Dame’s alumni and fans. The Fighting Irish went from fighting demons to resurrecting old ghosts.
Between dominating defensive performances and game winning drives, Notre Dame fought through the fire each and every week. All of a sudden they were the hunted once again, and Notre Dame’s championship dream was over. Pittsburgh fought hard all game long, and Kevin Harper was on to make the game winning kick in overtime. It was an easy kick. The only thing Notre Dame could do was block the kick, or hope Harper misses. Well, Harper pushed it wide right, and if the football world wasn’t aware prior to the kick, it was evident that the Fighting Irish were destined to get to the BCS national championship game.
While Notre Dame has been waiting a decade for this moment, The Irish have not fared well during the bowl season in recent history. They are (3-10) in the last 20 years. Their last win came in Brian Kelly’s first season as head coach, at the Sun Bowl.
Their offense leaves a lot to be desired. The Fighting Irish average 26 points per game. They struggled in games that they shouldn’t have, but Notre Dame has always done enough to get the win. Everett Golson has gotten better with each game, and his legs help him escape the rush. He’s thrown 11 touchdowns compared to five interceptions. Golson has also rushed for five touchdowns. The quarterbacks have combined to throw seven interceptions.
The Irish have a viable running game with multiple looks. Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood have combined for 1620 yards rushing, and 10 total total touchdowns. Riddick is especially tough as a receiving threat in Notre Dame’s offense. Their third back, George Atkinson is a game breaker, and he will be a factor on Monday night’s game.
Tyler Eifert is the go to receiver for Everett Golson. Eifert is big and he can line up wide against smaller corners. Notre Dame needs to win the one on one match up with Eifert. T.J. Jones must make plays at the wide receiver position, but their most important match up could be with Theo Riddick against the linebackers.
In reality, Notre Dame’s defense begins with the defensive line. That’s where they’ve been dominating games. They must keep the linebackers free to roam, and provide pressure on A.J. McCarron. The Irish will be playing their best offensive line of the season.
Manti Te’O and the rest of the Irish are tremendous tacklers. They must fill the holes with force, and not get blown off the ball. The better Notre Dame can stop the run, the easier it will be for the defensive backs to control the play action passing game.
The game comes down to speed and strength. If Notre Dame has those two elements defensively, then they will be in this game for the long haul. Once they are in position, Notre Dame should be able to take on the skill position players from Alabama. Opponents averaged 10.3 points per game against Notre Dame.
All year long, Notre Dame has caught the errant passes. They’ll need to capitalize on Alabama’s mistakes.
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