CNHI News Service

Sports

January 3, 2013

Irish-Tide showdown is the finest against the finest

MIAMI —  

When Fighting Irish senior safety Zeke Motta boarded the charter flight for South Florida, it was less than 20 degrees in South Bend, Ind., and snow continued to blanket the Notre Dame campus.

When his flight landed it was sunny and nearly 80 degrees as the No. 1 Irish arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport in preparation for Monday night’s BCS National Championship game against No. 2 Alabama at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.

“It’s good to be back,” said Motta, who hails from Vero Beach, Fla. “You dream about this moment and this opportunity. It’s amazing and a blessing.”

Be careful what you wish for. The heralded Irish defense, ranked No. 1 in points allowed (10.33 per game), must warm to the challenge of matching up with an Alabama offense that is one of the most balanced in the country.

In 2012, Alabama, led by quarterback AJ. McCarron, has rushed for 2,920 yards and passed for 2,788, a difference of just 132 yards.

Alabama, shooting for its second consecutive national championship and third in four years, is also incredibly efficient in “red zone” situations, putting points on the board 51 out of 57 trips inside an opponent’s 20-yard line.

Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator Bob Diaco, recently awarded the Broyles award for the top assistant coach in the country, said the secret to Bama’s offensive balance is McCarron who is a two-year starter and already has a national title notched in his belt.

“He’s the driver,” Diaco said Thursday morning. “He’s the coach on the field and puts them in the right spots. … (McCarron) conducts the game just like if (head coach) Nick Saban was taking the snap himself. I mean, he doesn’t put the team in bad spots. He doesn’t make poor decisions with the ball.”

That analysis has teeth in McCarron’s 24-2 record during his two seasons running the show in Tuscaloosa. He has thrown 26 touchdowns and just three interceptions this year, making him the most efficient quarterback in the country.

Text Only
Sports
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Golf turns into snooze-fest without celebrities like Tiger and Phil

    The Masters lumbered on last week without two of pro golf's biggest names, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and fans changed the channel. The PGA needs someone with star power if it's going to lure people back to the game.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • mfp Hoffner's return 1.jpg Players protest return of fired Minnesota coach

    The University of Minnesota-Mankato football refused to practice Wednesday afternoon, boycotting the return of Todd Hoffner as head foot ball coach. Players said in a prepared statement that they preferred interim coach Aaron Keen, who led the team to an 11-1 record last season and the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Wildcats aren't champs but we're all still watching Calipari

    Kentucky coach John Calipari is a college basketball phenom for his ability to knit together championship-caliber teams of freshmen. How long will Calipari's success last as other coaches catch on?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Too much of a good thing at UConn?

    The Connecticut Huskies dominate women's college basketball - which makes for a boring game.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 5.06.43 PM.png Spartans mourn passing of 'Princess Lacey'

    Lacey Holsworth, the 8-year-old cancer patient from Michigan who befriended Michigan State forward Adreian Payne and established a bond with his teammates before and during the Spartans’ run to the Elite Eight, died at her home late Tuesday night, her family said.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Taking someone out to the ballgame gets expensive

    Families in big-league cities like Boston and New York pay steep prices to catch a baseball game. It's not so expensive everywhere - especially if you're frugal.
     

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • hank_aaron_display_image.jpg VIDEO: Aaron's historic homer

    On the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th career home run, take a look at the historic moment as it happened.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg As Final Four tips off, all eyes are on the refs

    Whistles have changed the course of the NCAA tournament. Let's just hope one doesn't decide college basketball's next national champion.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • spt_mariejones.jpg 92-year-old fan bleeds UK Wildcats blue

    As the Kentucky Wildcats prepare for their 16th Final Four appearance this weekend, they’ve reawakened the passions of fans across the country, including one woman who watches every game on TV, even though she can’t clearly see the players’ faces.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 3.45.19 PM.png VIDEO: Nolan Ryan's wild first pitch

    Even in his most dominant years, Nolan Ryan was never known for his pinpoint control. The all-time Major League leader in strikeouts -- and walks -- threw out the ceremonial first pitch this week before the Houston Astros' opener against the New York Yankees. It did not go well.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo

News

Features

Opinion