It’s championship Saturday in college football, but there’s really only one game a majority of the country will be watching. It might as well be SEC Saturday as the Alabama-Georgia conference championship game will determine who gets a shot at Notre Dame and chance to win the National Championship. We know who could play Notre Dame, but the question is which team will give us the better National Championship showdown and who does Notre Dame match up better against?
Notre Dame has been touted for it’s defense, and the 3-4 scheme they run jives with the feel of the SEC. Just take a look at Notre Dame’s previous games this year, as all except the Navy game were considered close and many went into tight overtime games. But the defense hung in there and won a lot of the games this year for the Irish (see: the overtime goal line stand against Stanford).
The defense at Notre Dame is alot like the one in Alabama, it’s not a blitz-happy unit and it likes to play passive. The Irish defense matches up against the Crimson Tide offense, but it’s a close race. Alabama is the second best passing downs team in college football behind Texas A&M. Notre Dame is pretty stout on standard downs, but give them a passing down situation and they’ve historically been a bit sour in that department this season.
Georgia creates a different problem for the Irish, as while the Bulldogs are easier to stop because of their conservative passing down play calling, Georgia doesn’t get into many passing down situations. In that same breath, Aaron Murray has put together a brilliant season that has been priming him for a big spot title shot all the way.
Murray lost two of his top targets in the passing game but that’s only made him more adaptable and as a result he’s produced no season long tendencies. That’s a double-edged sword as the good leaves with the bad but he’s more than made up with it giving Georiga the top Passing S&P+.
Both units have intense strong suits and a few weaknesses, but it’s not going to be easy no matter who Notre Dame gets and it can be argued that both units can find a way to defeat the Irish attack.
The title question is does Notre Dame’s offense have enough to keep up with the fierce defenses of Georgia and Alabama? The answer is, hardly.
Right now the Crimson Tide are touting the best defense in college football, and even if the Irish get the Bulldogs, Georgia is arguably touting the hottest unit. Notre Dame’s offense is luke-warm at best and an achilles heel at worst, something both defensive units are salivating over.
The Irish have made a name for the defense with one name, Manti Te’o while Georgia and Alabama have created a defense out of names. For the Bulldogs, we’ve seen the unit we thought we’d see with guys like Jarvis Jones, Baccari Rambo and Alec Ogletree headlining what has been a fast moving and hard hitting defense.
Alabama, who is no stranger to high powered defense, has more names than you can fathom and it’s not a surprise it’s the best unit in college football at the moment. Notre Dame can’t play offense, it’s just that simple and if the team has an undoing, that’s where it’s at. Florida would have put up a good fight against this offense, so let’s not spend too much time pointing out the obvious.
The only way Notre Dame can win this game is if their defense plays lights out and they get into a “Game of the Century” situation where the title is one by a field goal kicker. Notre Dame has plenty of time to prepare, but this offense needs to cram every night to get even close to competing with either SEC defense.
This doesn’t mean the Irish will have no shot to win the title, but no matter who they get, don’t be surprised if you hear a slew of pundits asking how the Irish got into the title game in the first place after either Georgia or Alabama (in other words, a real football team) get a crack at them.