Between now and the Melee in Miami, fans from both Alabama and Notre Dame will make up all sorts of reasons why their team will win.
Notre Dame will come out on top because all of Notre Dame’s coaches win the title in their third year. Alabama will win because Nick Saban’s never lost a national title game. Even the media gets involved, hypothesizing that Notre Dame’s 5-1 career record against Alabama may give the Irish them sort of tangible edge.
I’ve decided to take emotion and homerism out of the equation for a change. Here are the legitimate, on-the-field, carefully-thought-out reasons why Notre Dame will beat Alabama next month.
Notre Dame has a great defense. In fact, they tackle even better than Georgia’s offensive line. If you watched the SEC title game on December 1, you know how big a compliment that is. The Bulldog front wall made several drive-saving tackles, including one on Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosely – a perfect form tackle during Todd Gurley’s fourth-quarter touchdown run that put the Dogs up by three. Not only can the Irish defense tackle better than Georgia’s offense, but their all-everything linebacker Manti Te’o, is, at least in theory, better at breaking tackles than Mosely. Had Te’o had the good fortune of playing Georgia this season, he would have very likely proved it, or at least been given ample opportunity to try. Perhaps then he would have won the Heisman, which perhaps always will be reserved for offensive players. Huge edge to the Irish, who have proven that they tackle well, and that they almost always do it when it’s legal.
The Irish have the best tight end in the country, Tyler Eifert. Not only did he average one touchdown a month, but he grabbed 3.6 balls a game. That’s almost four. But wait, there’s more. Eifert led Notre Dame to 21 points against Boston College, 13 against Stanford (in regulation), 13 against Michigan, 22 against USC, 20 against Michigan State, 17 against BYU, and 20 against Pittsburgh (in regulation). Of course, they also rang up 38 against stingy Wake Forest, who the very next week only gave up a paltry 58 to the Vanderbilt offensive juggernaut. But then again, Vandy has a decent tight end, too, so the Commodores would beat Alabama maybe worse than Notre Dame is going to, maybe.
Notre Dame has a player who will be the second linebacker taken in the draft. Alabama has never in its entire history played against and beaten a linebacker who has been the second linebacker taken in the draft. Look it up for yourselves, because it might actually be true. Alabama has beaten the first linebacker taken and the third linebacker taken. But never in its illustrious history has it managed to beat the second one. At least we don’t think it has because we didn’t look it up. But you never know.
The Irish know how to win close games, because close games is all they ever play. And teams that play the most close games always win, because they are always better than teams who maybe only play three close games and then beat the absolute hell out of everyone else. Study your history. It’s true. Teams that win by blowouts are not nearly as good, historically, as teams that escape by the skin of their teeth. Because they don’t play as many close games, and the lack of experience in that regard makes it a certainty that they don’t know how to win close games.
Notre Dame beat Stanford, who is just like Alabama only except they are maybe way smarter overall. The Cardinal also has a nickname that is singular instead of plural, which makes them equal to Alabama in that regard. And plus they’re smarter. Their players know all the teams whose nickname is singular. And they also know that Notre Dame’s nickname – Fighting Irish – can technically be considered either singular or plural, depending on how many Irish people show up for the fight. Stanford, despite what you see on television when you watch them, is just as big and fast as Alabama and besides, they play smarter than Alabama does because they’re smarter people with smarter parents than all of Alabama’s players except for maybe Barrett Jones – and he’s overrated. If Notre Dame can beat a team that is smarter than Alabama, and who is just as big and fast as Alabama, and who has a singular nickname like Alabama, and who has a very smart center who is not overrated like Barrett Jones is overrated, then Notre Dame will beat Alabama, too. And it won’t even take overtime to do it.
As you can see, Alabama has little chance of winning its third national title in four years. The facts are too heavily in Notre Dame’s favor. If only Alabama’s offensive line could tackle, it may have had a fighting chance.