The Alabama Crimson Tide are playing for a special piece of history. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are playing to add to their illustrious legend. A college football betting grand event commences on Monday night as two of the biggest brand name schools clash for the right to hoist the National Championship trophy.
2013 BCS National Championship Game – Monday, January 7th
Odds: Alabama -9.5
How The Tide Can Win
They know how to win on this stage and have proven as much on multiple occasions in recent years. The Crimson Tide are going for their third national title in the past four seasons and a repeat title after their 2011 triumph, secured in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game against LSU. What’s going for the Tide as much as their own quality is the fact that they’re carrying the banner for the best conference in all of college football.
The Southeastern Conference has won the last six college football national championships, dating back to 2006. Alabama should certainly be seen as the favorite, and it is likely to win this game outright because of its experience plus the coaching of boss Nick Saban. SEC teams, because of their speed on defense, and more particularly because of their speed and depth on the defensive line, are able to punish opponents’ offenses for each and every mistake they make. Notre Dame will not have played a game since Nov. 24. Will the Fighting Irish really be able to play with the precision and crispness they need? It’s highly debatable. Notre Dame does not have the weapons of an elite offense, and that’s going to give Alabama’s rested defense a considerable comfort zone here.
How The Fighting Irish Can Win
They will thrive in an underdog’s role, because they’ve done so all season long. The Fighting Irish were a 10-point underdog at Oklahoma as well… and won. Notre Dame was unranked before the start of the season… and note that the Fighting Irish overcame those odds. This is a team that has been defying convention and logic all season. Notre Dame easily could have lost several games, but this team always makes just enough plays to win. In this respect, Notre Dame is a lot like the 2002 Ohio State team that won the national title by winning the equivalent of the BCS title game (the 2003 Fiesta Bowl) against a Miami squad that was going for back-to-back titles. In this sense, Alabama is playing the role of Miami… in the city of Miami.
Notre Dame is also in position to win because of its defense, which has been especially tough in goal-line situations and fourth quarters. The Irish wobbled at times but were always able to steady themselves when they had to make plays. Notre Dame held off Purdue in week two by a field goal, beat Michigan by seven points later in September, and denied Stanford in overtime in the first half of their season. In the second half, Notre Dame was just as rugged and resilient. The Fighting Irish broke a 13-13 tie in the fourth quarter to win at Oklahoma. They survived BYU in the fourth quarter as well after coming from behind against the Cougars. People continue to wonder how this team can do the job, but that’s how many people perceived Ohio State in 2002.
One should point out that of the teams that have tried to win repeat national titles in recent years, the ones that got back to the national title game have lost: Florida State in 2000 after winning it all in 1999; Miami in 2002 after winning it all in 2001; USC in 2005 after winning it all in 2004. If history holds up, Notre Dame will knock off Bama.
Outlook & Picks
Alabama’s defense is likely to shut down Notre Dame’s offense, and Alabama’s running game is clearly better than Notre Dame’s ground attack. However, Notre Dame’s defense is so intelligent and physical that Alabama won’t be able to throw the ball. This will be a defensive slugfest that Alabama will win but NCAA football betting handicappers should see Notre Dame cover the spread.
Pick: Notre Dame +9.5