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The Case for ... Alabama

Against Georgia, Alabama's offensive line bulldozed an athletic 3--4 defense with great linebackers and a massive nosetackle, paving the way for 350 rushing yards and a 32--28 win. Guess what the Crimson Tide will face in the BCS title game? An athletic 3--4 defense with talented linebackers and a massive nosetackle.

Notre Dame's front seven will be the best Alabama has seen all season, but Notre Dame has not seen an offensive line as good as Alabama's, which blocks for a pair of sledgehammer backs, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. Left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is a future first-rounder. Left guard Chance Warmack might be the best in the nation at his position. Center Barrett Jones, the 2011 Outland Trophy winner, will try to win his third national title at his third position. Right guard Anthony Steen and tackle D.J. Fluker manhandled Georgia's 358-pound tackle, John Jenkins, last week, proving that they aren't weak points. "They lined up and knocked us off the ball," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. In the fourth quarter, after eight Alabama runs in nine plays had sucked more Bulldogs into the box, quarterback AJ McCarron found receiver Amari Cooper with a perfect throw for a 45-yard touchdown that put the Tide ahead for good.

Alabama's defense should control Notre Dame's hot-and-cold offense, but the Tide will have to score on the stingy Irish defense, or the title could be decided by a turnover or a special teams gaffe. 'Bama proved in the final drive of its victory at LSU that McCarron can win a game with his arm, but the Tide also learned in its loss against Texas A&M that the ground is a safer path. In the final minutes 'Bama tried a pass from inside the six, and it was picked.

Against Georgia, Alabama remembered that it needs to dance with the five 300-pounders who brought it to the brink of a third title in four seasons. That lesson should carry over against Notre Dame. The best offensive line will meet the best front seven, and the resulting collision should work out in Alabama's favor.



BIG MOMENT Alabama's strength, its offensive line, will clash with ND's stout front seven, and the result will decide the championship.