Observer Staff Report | Monday, December 3, 2012
The release of the final Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings confirmed what was expected — No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama will face off for the national title Jan. 7 in Miami.
The Irish (12-0) remained in the top spot for the third consecutive week and the Crimson Tide (12-1, 7-1 SEC) secured their place by defeating then-No. 3 Georgia 32-28 for the SEC crown.
Alabama has been a staple in the national championship. Its matchup with Notre Dame will be its third trip to the title game in the last four seasons. The Crimson Tide won the title both last year and in 2009 and are 48-5 in the last four seasons.
“Alabama has been the benchmark for college football,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “We’re aware of the challenge in front of us. We welcome it.”
Notre Dame, meanwhile, will be chasing its first national championship since 1988, when Lou Holtz led the Irish to an undefeated season.
The defense leads both of these teams. Alabama’s unit ranks first in the nation in rushing defense (79.8 yards per game) and total defense (246.0 yards per game), second in scoring defense (10.7 points per game) and eighth in pass efficiency defense (101.56).
Notre Dame also ranks in the top 10 in multiple defensive categories. The Irish are first in scoring defense (10.3 points per game), fourth in rushing defense (92.4 yards per game) and sixth in total defense (286.8 yards per game).
Notre Dame has faced Alabama just six times and not since 1987. The Irish are 5-1 against the Crimson Tide.
“We have a special respect for Notre Dame,” Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. “This is a really good team and a great matchup.“
Alabama’s lone blemish this season was its 29-24 loss to Texas A&M on Nov. 10. The Aggies rolled up 418 yards of total offense, including 165 on the ground. The Crimson Tide won their final three games against Western Carolina, Auburn and Georgia to climb back into the national championship picture.
The Crimson Tide boast two 1,000-yard rushers in junior running back Eddie Lacy and freshman running back T.J. Yeldon. Lacy and Yeldon both had more than 150 yards in the SEC championship.
Junior linebacker C.J. Mosley leads the Crimson Tide in tackles (99 tackles) while sophomore linebacker Adrian Hubbard paces Alabama with six sacks.
Senior running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood lead the Irish offense on the ground with 880 yards and 740 yards, respectively. Senior linebacker Manti Te’o is third in the country with seven interceptions.
Notre Dame and Alabama will play for the national championship Jan. 7 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami at 8:30 p.m.