On January 7, 2013 Alabama faced off against the undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a highly anticipated matchup for the NCAA football National Championship. In the first half, Alabama started out hot opening up a 28-0 lead. It seemed apparent in the opening drive when Notre Dame overloaded the box at the 5-yard line that they misread the play Alabama was calling. They assumed Alabama would rely on their all-star running back to punch it in after successfully running the ball on the previous play to set up a first down and goal situation. However, in an unconventional play call, Alabama adapted to Notre Dame’s goal line defense, faked the run and found a wide open receiver in the back of the end-zone to complete McCarron’s first touchdown pass of the game.
Upon the first completed TD, Alabama appeared to have outsmarted Notre Dame. The theme continued for the rest of the first half. For 30 minutes, Notre Dame seemed to be guessing on defense and found little success in shutting down the Tide. Going into the second half, A.J. McCarron had already racked up 158 yards and 2 TDs (Lacy/Williams) on 12 completions, complimenting another 2 touchdowns converted in the running game by running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. 28 points later, a comeback by Notre Dame was unlikely.
The Tide continued to roll entering the second half – striking first on an AJ McCarron pass to Amari Cooper for a 34-yard TD. The lead was stretched to 35-0. With 4:08 left in the third quarter, Notre Dame finally found the scoreboard on a 2-yard rush from Everett Golson. The Tide scored again with 11:27 left in the 4th quarter, regaining a 35-point lead on another AJ McCarron pass to Amari Cooper, this time for 19 yards. Notre Dame answered back on a Golson pass to Theo Riddick for 8 yards and a TD and with 7:51 left in the 4th quarter, the Tide led the Irish 42-14.
With under three minutes left in the game, Alabama pulled starters from the game and Lacy was named the offensive MVP having racked up 140 yards on 20 rushing yards and 1 TD in addition to 17 reception yards and a TD on 2 catches. T.J. Yeldon split carries with Lacy, finishing with one more carry than him (21) for a total of 108 rushing yards and 1 TD. AJ McCarron completed 20 of 28 passes for 264 yards and 4 TDs. Amari Cooper finished with 6 receptions for 105 yards and 2 TDs.
Although the Tide went on to win 42-14, Notre Dame reported a couple of notable statistics. Namely, DaVaris Daniels, TJ Jones and Tyler Eifert racked up 266 reception yards on a combined 20 catches (split 6/7/6 for 115/90/61 respectively). Quarterback, Golson, completed 21 of 36 passes for a total of 270 passing yards, 1 TD and 1 interception.
The Tide shut down Notre Dame’s running game, allowing just 32 rushing yards on 19 total rushes. One of those rushes went for 20 yards, meaning the remaining 18 rushes mustered up a mere 12 additional yards. This would have been the outstanding statistic and likely recognized as the difference maker if it weren’t overshadowed by the fact that Notre Dame’s defense was shredded by McCarron and company, thus leaving little doubt the Tide would have won regardless of whether the Fighting Irish had gotten their running game working. This is the Tide’s third National Championship in 4 years and with this latest win, McCarron became the first quarterback in history to win back-to-back National Championships. Three other quarterbacks had the opportunity since 2000 but none were successful in winning the second game.