The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

January 7, 2013

Notre Dame's defense overmatched in title game

— MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Manti Te'o stood perfectly still as he took a long look at one of the giant video screens in Sun Life Stadium, studying the replay of an Alabama touchdown.

It was a pose that Notre Dame repeated way, way too often in Monday's BCS title game.

Te'o — widely considered the nation's top defensive player this season — was a non-factor early in the national championship game, and that foreshadowed how the rest of the night went for the Fighting Irish. Overmatched from the opening possession, Notre Dame allowed season highs in points and yardage, simply unable to stop the Crimson Tide.

Final score: Alabama 42, Notre Dame 14.

And yes, it was that one-sided of a game, one that even had Irish coach Brian Kelly cracking a joke at his own expense in a televised halftime interview.

"All Alabama," Kelly said at the time. "I mean, we can't tackle them right now. And who knows why? They're big and physical — I guess I do know why."

Anyone who was watching knew why.

The lowlights were stacked high by the time this game was over. Te'o missed a couple of tackles early, something he hardly ever did this season. By halftime, when it was 28-0, the Irish had already given up more points than they had in any game this season, the previous high being 26 in a triple-overtime win over Pittsburgh. The most yards Notre Dame gave up this season was 379; Alabama cracked the 500 mark early in the fourth quarter.

Maybe the play that will be most replayed of all was the one where Eddie Lacy essentially tackled Danny Spond.

The significance?

Well, Lacy was the Alabama ballcarrier at the time, holding the football with one arm and sending Spond — one of Notre Dame's top linebackers — sprawling with the other as he rumbled past for an extra yard or two.

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