The stage is set for a historic showdown: #1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish versus #2 Alabama Crimson Tide.
In this matchup, Notre Dame is 5-1. However, the last time the two teams played each other was in 1987.
Alabama is on their way to winning their third national championship in four years. The Crimson Tide are known primarily for two things: their defense and their running game. Many analysts argue that the current defense for the Tide is the weakest defense they’ve seen in five years. However, the running game is still at the top of their game. Alabama is 50-0 when rushing for more than 140 yards. A huge key to a Notre Dame win is stopping the run.
Notre Dame’s quarterback Everett Golson might be a redshirt freshman, but his maturity does not reflect that. After starting the season very rocky, he has done a complete 180 the second half of the season, continuing the Irish’s perfect season. All season Golson has thrown for more than 240 yards only twice. The Irish must make key plays against this top-notch defense to be successful. Their offense line needs also needs to protect their quarterback, and allow him the time to make those plays.
Perhaps the greatest attribute to the Irish team is their red zone defense. All season they have allowed only nine touchdowns in the red zone, two of those rushing. In order to stop Tide RB’s like Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon, they must be firm on the goal line. Eddie Lacy is known to be a powerful running back, so this matchup will be very interesting to watch.
I think the main component of this game is defense. Notre Dame needs to put pressure on Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, and capitalize on any mistakes he could make. The Crimson Tide need to keep Golson contained, he is not only an accurate thrower but he is able to run. The Tide fell to Texas A&M and quarterback Johnny Manziel, who like Golson thrives on his mobility. The winner of tonight’s game will be the team whose defense steps up when the stage is set.