MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — It was too easy.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
Alabama was never threatened in pasting Notre Dame 42-14 in the BCS National Championship Game on Monday. The Crimson Tide had three touchdowns before the Irish recorded a second first down.
Dynasty status now belongs to coach Nick Sabans squad. Alabama becomes the first program to repeat as BCS champion, and the first since the Nebraska programs of the mid-1990s to win three national championships in four years.
There may be no stopping this program. Dont be surprised to see the Crimson Tide open the 2013 as the favorite to win another crystal ball trophy.
The Tide will enjoy this one its third in the BCS era for a while.
Whether I look it or not, Im happy as hell, Alabama coach Nick Saban said. Repeating is hard, very hard to do. The first time youre all fired up. The second time you have to challenge your will.
Veteran Alabama watchers say the title teams of 2009 and 2011 might have been more talented, especially on defense.
Perhaps. But its difficult to imagine a team with more offensive-line muscle than the team that steamrolled the Irish.
The unit thats considered the nations best lived up to expectations and controlled the game from the outset. The Tide drove 82, 61 and 80 yards for touchdowns on its first three possessions.
Running back Eddie Lacy, who finished with 140 rushing yards, and the left side of the Tide offense line were unstoppable early. Operating behind tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and guard Chance Warmack, Alabama blew holes in the Irish front, easily getting Lacy to the second level where Notre Dame linebackers including the games most decorated defender Manti Teo couldnt bring down Lacy, a 6-foot, 220-pound bruiser, without help.
T.J. Yeldon, Alabamas other power back, finished with 105 yards.
The Tide took the opening kickoff and swiftly moved down the field, scoring in fewer than 3 minutes on Lacys 20-yard run.
For one of the first times this season we came out with a good start and played a complete game, Lacy said.
Notre Dame, which entered the game leading the nation in scoring defense at 10.3 points per game, had been softened, and the Irish spent much of the early moments on their heels. It wasnt just the running game. The first time quarterback AJ McCarron dropped back, he found Michael Williams alone after a play fake for a 29-yard gain.
McCarron, who leads the nation in passing efficiency, isnt flashy, but he is effective. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 264 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
He also became the first quarterback in the BCS era to own multiple national championships.
Saban also added to his impressive resume. Monday was the easiest of his four BCS championships, with the first won at LSU in 2003.
Hes part of the Southeastern Conference machine that now has captured seven straight BCS titles and nine in all. But hes not interested in talking about dynasties.
Words like dynasties, Im not much interested in them, Saban said. Were interested in accomplishment, consistency and performance.
For top-ranked Notre Dame, 12-1, an amazing season ended on a bitter note.
The iconic gold-helmeted Fighting Irish were in position to win a national championship for the first time since 1988.
They were a heavy underdog against Alabama, but Notre Dame had been a charmed team throughout the year, and there was belief that a combination of a stout Teo-led defense, confidence and maybe the law of averages the SEC cant win every year, can it? could inspire the Irish.
In his third year, coach Brian Kelly steered the Irish to an undefeated season, and Notre Dame climbed past teams such as Alabama, Oregon and Kansas State late in the season to finish first in the final BCS standings.
But Monday, the Irish never got off the mat.
How bad was it?
Notre Dame faced fourth and 5 from the Alabama 44 and kept its offense on the field. The Irish had to get something going.
But this back-to-the-wall decision didnt come with Notre Dame facing a late uphill thrust to stay in the game.
The ball was snapped 91 seconds into the second quarter. Alabama already led by three touchdowns.
A long pass from Everett Golson to T.J. Jones was easily batted away by cornerback Deion Beule.
If we wanted to get back in the game, we had to take a shot right there, Kelly said.
We didnt feel like we could give them the ball back.
The mismatch had its defining moment.