MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Tide sure did roll.
Alabama proved unstoppable from the outset of the BCS championship game Monday night. The Crimson Tide mounted touchdown drives of 82, 61 and 80 yards on their first three possessions and went on to beat Notre Dame 42-14.
The lightning-quick start gave the Tide a 21-0 lead one play into the second quarter, and they built it by blowing the Fighting Irish off the ball.
Alabama dominated with an offensive line that includes three All-Americas – first-teamers Barrett Jones at center and Chance Warmack at left guard, and second-teamer D.J. Fluker at right tackle. They created gaping holes against a team ranked fourth in nation in run defense, and neutralized Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te’o, who became no factor.
Notre Dame entered the game with 34 sacks, but A.J. McCarron was given plenty of time to throw. He hit eight of his first nine passes, including a 3-yard toss to Michael Williams for the second touchdown.
The early clock-eating drives took Notre Dame’s offense out of the game. The Irish gained only 23 yards before Alabama had 21 points. Time of possession at that juncture was 12:12 for the Crimson Tide to 2:52 for the Fighting Irish.
The matchup of Alabama’s ground attack – with 1,000-yard rushers Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon – against Notre Dame’s stout defense was expected to be pivotal. It was, and like the game, it quickly became no contest.
Alabama had 74 yards rushing before Notre Dame attempted a running play.
The Notre Dame defense wasn’t accustomed to being pushed around in such a manner. The first scoring drive – which took only five plays – was the longest the Irish had allowed all season.
McCarron threw downfield on the second play to Kevin Norwood for 29 yards. Three plays later, Lacy found lots of room up the middle and ran through the grasp of a cornerback en route to a 20-yard touchdown.
Most of the time in the early going, the Tide ran to the left and away from Te’o. And Alabama’s linemen repeatedly locked the linebacker up.
When Lacy ran up the middle for another 20-yard gain on third-and-1 to the Notre Dame 3, Te’o was blocked out of play by Warmack and ended up chasing the play from behind.
Jones helped knock Te’o aside when Yeldon ran over right guard for a 1-yard score to make it 21-0. That was the second rushing touchdown allowed by the Irish, matching what they gave up during the entire regular season.
Notre Dame had allowed only two players to rush for 100 yards, but Lacy finished with 140 and Yeldon added 108.