After Everett Golson rushed for a touchdown that ended Alabama’s BCS scoreless streak, the only remaining drama in the BCS championship game came via a fourth altercation between All-American Tide center Barrett Jones and quarterback A.J. McCarron.
The shoving match after a delay of game penalty was about the only thing that went wrong for Alabama, which rolled to its third championship in four seasons, 42-14 over Notre Dame. Labels are prematurely applied in sports all too often, but Alabama earned this one: dynasty.
Under Nick Saban, Alabama has reached unimaginable heights. The 2011 BCS champion-winning Tide lost numerous starters to the NFL, yet came back in 2012 arguably stronger. The star of the 2011 team, Trent Richardson, had a great debut season for the Cleveland Browns. Successor Eddie Lacy finished the season looking very much like Richardson. Monday night’s showing may have made Lacy the first running back drafted this spring.
Alabama had numerous stars shining bright on South Beach. Most Valuable Player awards are rarely split — a shame, because the front five of Alabama’s offensive line dominated in true MVP fashion. Notre Dame’s top ranked scoring defense had no answer for Alabama either on the ground or in the air. As it stands, Lacy is your 2013 BCS championship MVP. He concluded his Tide career with 140 yards rushing on 20 carries, and he scored a touchdown both on the ground and off a pass.
Protection from the line made quarterback A.J. McCarron’s 20-28, 264-yard, four-touchdown performance look effortless. And in turn, the drum for McCarron’s 2013 Heisman candidacy got its first beats, courtesy of Brent Musberger. Let the A.J. McCarron vs. Johnny Manziel Round 2 buzz begin.
McCarron is labelled a game manager. And indeed, much of the Alabama offense runs through the two-pronged backfields and Saban’s quarterbacks provide necessary balance. But if McCarron can harness the production he’s exhibited in two national championship games throughout a regular season, he could become the first Alabama quarterback to win college football’s most coveted individual honor.
Having wide receiver Amari Cooper back won’t hurt McCarron’s chances of going to that next level. The wideout who put Alabama in Monday’s title game was another worthy MVP candidate: six targets for 105 yards and two touchdowns. The sky is the limit for the best Tide receiver since Julio Jones.
Notre Dame concludes its season 12-1, and obviously disappointed its showing for the national championship was not more competitive. Yet, in August, this was a team virtually no one had tabbed for a place in the BCS title game. The Fighting Irish were unranked. CBS Sports bowl projection expert Jerry Palm had Notre Dame slated for the Military Bowl.
Brian Kelly’s trek to Miami isn’t the culmination, but a stepping stone. Freshman quarterback Golson had flashes of brilliance against college football’s premiere defense with 270 yards passing and a touchdown. His top target was sophomore DaVaris Daniels, who caught six passes for 115 yards. The Fighting Irish is on the road back to national prominence, but it’s a highway with one clear pacesetter.