The Crimson Tide scored touchdowns on its first three drives against No. 1 Notre Dame and rolled to a 35-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter of a BCS championship game that wasn’t living up to the hype Monday night.
In a matchup of programs tied for the most AP national championships with eight, Alabama was on its way toward becoming the first team to win consecutive BCS titles – and its third title in four seasons under coach Nick Saban.
The Crimson Tide (12-1) marched with ease on the opening drive, going 82 yards on five plays to take a 7-0 lead on Eddie
Lacy’s 20-yard touchdown run up the middle with 12:03 left in the first quarter.
Notre Dame (12-0) had allowed only two rushing touchdowns in its surprising run to the championship game. The Fighting Irish were the first team to reach the BCS championship game after starting the season unranked. They were trying to become the first team to go from unranked to national champion since BYU in 1984.
Alabama quickly made the Fighting Irish look as if they were in over their heads.
Notre Dame did nothing to respond to Alabama’s opening march, and on its punt back, the Crimson Tide might have caught a break. Returner Christion Jones muffed the kick, but Notre Dame was flagged for interfering with the catch, though it was one of Jones’ teammates that made contact with him.
Lacy and the Crimson Tide went right back to work, hammering away at Notre Dame’s vaunted defense. The Irish struggled to bring down the 220-pound tailback, who even ran through Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te’o on a screen pass.
In the second quarter, it was freshman T.J. Yeldon slipping through Te’o’s arms in the backfield on a third-down run and getting a first down.
Lacy set up Alabama’s second touchdown with another 20-yard run, this time to the Irish 2. Instead of running into a Notre Dame goal-line defense that has become known for goal-line stands, AJ McCarron faked a handoff and found tight end Michael Williams all alone for the score and a 14-0 lead.
Alabama made it 3 for 3 on the next drive when Yeldon scored from a yard out on the first play of the second quarter.
The Alabama fans seemed outnumbered at Sun Life Stadium by Fighting Irish followers, pumped to see their team try to win its first national title in 24 years. But the folks in Crimson and houndstooth were making all the noise as the Tide rolled.
Lacy landed one more blow with 31 seconds left in the half. McCarron dumped off to Lacy, who spun off two tacklers, and went 11 yards to make it 28-0.
The Southeastern Conference, winners of the last six BCS championships, was storming toward seven in a row. Those familiar ”S-E-C!” chants started early in this one.
The Fighting Irish started the third quarter with a promising drive that ended with another Alabama highlight.
HaHa Clinton-Dix made a sensational diving interception, grabbing a tipped pass and tapping his toe inches from the sideline. Alabama turned the game’s first turnover into another long scoring drive. McCarron capped this one with a 34-yard TD pass to freshman Amari Cooper, the longest TD pass the Irish have given up this season.
With the score 35-0 and some Fighting Irish fans in the stadium record crowd of 80,120, Notre Dame finally got on the board with 4:08 left in the third.
Everett Golson took an option keeper 2 yards for a touchdown to break a streak of 108 minutes, 7 seconds in which Alabama had not allowed a point in a BCS championship game, dating back to the last 6 minutes of the fourth quarter of the 2009 title game against Texas at the Rose Bowl. Alabama had scored 69 straight points in that span.
Alabama had 453 yards through three quarters. The Irish defense came in allowing 286 per game.
Lacy had 130 yards on 18 carries and McCarron, the MVP of last year’s 21-0 title game victory against LSU, was 16 for 22 for 225 yards.
Golson, the redshirt freshman quarterback who coach Brian Kelly had nurtured through the season, was 14 for 26 for 196 yards.
Alabama was trying to become only the third team to win three national titles in four seasons since polls started being used to crown champions in 1936. The last was Nebraska from 1994-97, and the Cornhuskers had to share the ’97 championship with Michigan, which was voted No. 1 in the AP media poll. Nebraska was No. 1 in the coaches’ poll.
Another national championship would also give Saban four, his first coming with LSU in 2003. Only Alabama’s Paul ”Bear” Bryant with six would have more.