FORT WAYNE – Notre Dame will likely try to end the Southeastern Conference’s football dominance seven days into the new year.
The No. 1 Irish (12-0) will likely be matched against No. 2 Alabama (12-1) in the Jan. 7 BCS championship game in Miami when the BCS bowls are announced tonight. The Crimson Tide defeated No. 3 Georgia (11-2) in Saturday’s SEC championship game in Atlanta.
Alabama will be trying to win a national championship for the SEC for a seventh straight year.
We understand how dominant the SEC has been in the past, and it definitely is an opportunity that we are looking forward to, Irish linebacker Manti Te’o said.
Alabama will try to capture its third title in four years.
The Crimson Tide defeated Texas 37-21 by scoring 10 points in the final 29 seconds of the first half and holding off the Longhorns’ rally to win the BCS championship after the 2009 season.
Alabama won last year’s title by winning the first championship game featuring two teams from the same conference. The Tide defeated LSU 21-0, marking the first shutout in the BCS title game.
Alabama’s offense is led by quarterback AJ McCarron. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior was second in the nation in passing efficiency at 177.3, entering Saturday, and had thrown for 2,507 yards with 25 touchdowns and two interceptions.
McCarron is backed up by a strong running game with 6-foot, 220-pound junior Eddie Lacy running for 1,001 yards and 14 touchdowns, and 6-2, 216-pound freshman T.J. Yeldon running for 847 yards and 10 touchdowns, entering Saturday.
The Crimson Tide entered Saturday with the nation’s top scoring defense, giving up 9.3 points per game, and No. 1 overall defense, giving up 233.7 yards per game.
C.J. Mosely, a 6-2, 232-pound junior linebacker, is the team’s top tackler with 92, including six tackles for loss, and he has two interceptions.
On the defensive line, 6-4, 282-pound junior Ed Stinston, 6-4, 320-pound senior Jesse Williams and 6-3, 286-pound senior Damion Square have combined for 15 tackles for loss and 7 1/2 sacks, and 6-2, 210-pound senior safety Robert Lester and 6-1, 209-pound sophomore safety HaHa Clinton-Dix have combined for seven interceptions.
Even though the SEC has been dominant for most of the decade, Te’o said Notre Dame is ready to end that run and bring home the Irish’s first national title since 1988.
We are going to prepare the same way we have been preparing all year, Te’o said. We are going to get after it. Whatever happens, we are going to make sure that we are most prepared that we have ever been. We know that whoever we go up against is going to be one of the best teams we have faced all year long.
BCSNotre Dame vs. Alabama
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 7
AlabamaRecord: 12-1, 8-1 SEC
Nickname: Crimson Tide
Offensive statistics (entering Saturday): 39 ppg; 433 ypg
Defensive statistics: 9.3 ppg; 233.7 ypg
3 key players: QB AJ McCarron 2,507 passing yards, 25 TDs, 2 INTs; RB Eddie Lacy 1,001 rushing yards, 14 TDs; LB C.J. Mosley 92 tackles, 6 for loss, 4 sacks
The skinny: Alabama has won two of the last three national titles, beating LSU last year and Texas in 2010. Alabama’s Nick Saban is the only coach to win three BCS titles and the first to accomplish the feat at different schools. Alabama lost top receivers Kenny Bell (leg) and DeAndrew White (knee) to injuries this season.