- Associated Press - Friday, January 4, 2013

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (AP) - When Everett Golson sees a piano, he usually sits down and starts entertaining. He plays several instruments, keeps a keyboard in his room and loves to sing.

Music is a huge part of his life, perhaps only topped by basketball.

And in Golson’s spare time, he plays quarterback for Notre Dame.

“He’s pretty good at his hobby,” Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin said. “This being his hobby.”

Golson’s biggest game _ and biggest opportunity _ awaits Monday night when the top-ranked Fighting Irish (12-0) take on No. 2 Alabama (12-1) for the BCS national title. Golson’s season started with him winning a competition to be the quarterback for a then-unranked team, and now he’s got the chance to lead Notre Dame back to the top of college football.

Or in musical vernacular, to be ND’s maestro.

“It is a big stage,” Golson said. “I don’t ride the wave too much. I’m kind of just focused on what’s played between the yard lines, what’s played on the field. Can’t really focus on everything that’s off the field because that’s out of my control.”

A redshirt freshman, Golson didn’t play last season, instead running the scout team. He won starter job entering this season, yet even when he was picked to be under center as Notre Dame opened the season in Ireland against Navy, there was some question about how long he would actually be able to keep his spot.

Golson had all the answers. His numbers aren’t catchy _ 11 passing touchdowns in 11 appearances _ but his record is unblemished, 10-0 as a starter.

“I think he understood more of what our coaches wanted from him,” Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert said. “When they would coach him up on something, he kind of better understood that as the year went on.”

One of the major issues Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly had with the Irish offense a year ago was its penchant for turning the ball over.

Golson rarely dealt with that problem.

Poised more often than not, Golson has only five interceptions in 282 attempts this season. He averages 191 passing yards per game _ only 79th-best in the nation _ but he’s not necessarily asked to win games with wild throwing sprees, either. Kelly’s mandate was simply for his quarterback to avoid the big mistake that would lose games.

So far, so good.

“First-ever college game in Dublin, Ireland, first-ever home game against Purdue, road game primetime Michigan State, night game at Notre Dame against Michigan, on the road at Oklahoma, on the road at USC, coming off the bench … take any other quarterback this year and try to figure out if they’ve gone through as much as Everett Golson,” Martin said. “To me it’s not even close. Not even close.”

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