MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (AP) - The Tide sure did roll.
Alabama proved unstoppable from the outset of the BCS championship game Monday night. The Crimson Tide mounted touchdown drives of 82, 61 and 80 yards on its first three possessions and went on to beat Notre Dame 42-14.
The lightning-quick start gave the Tide a 21-0 lead one play into the second quarter, and Alabama built it by blowing the Fighting Irish off the ball.
“We knew we wanted to run the ball and hit them early, and I think that’s what we did,” center Barrett Jones said. “We couldn’t be happier with the way we came out and started the game.”
Alabama dominated with an offensive line that includes three All-Americas _ first-teamers Jones and left guard Chance Warmack, and second-teamer D.J. Fluker at right tackle. They created gaping holes against a team ranked fourth in the nation in run defense, and neutralized Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te'o, who became a non-factor.
“I love this group of guys” said Jones, a senior. “They’re by far the best O-line I’ve ever played on _ very physical and very assignment-oriented.”
Notre Dame entered the game with 34 sacks, but A.J. McCarron was given plenty of time to throw. He hit eight of his first nine passes, including a 3-yard toss to Michael Williams for the second touchdown.
“The running game was a big key,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “When you run the ball, it opens up the offense and gives you more options.”
The early clock-eating drives took Notre Dame’s offense out of the game. The Irish gained only 23 yards before Alabama had 21 points. Time of possession at that juncture was 12:12 for the Crimson Tide to 2:52 for the Fighting Irish.
The matchup of Alabama’s ground attack _ with 1,000-yard rushers Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon _ against Notre Dame’s stout defense was expected to be pivotal. It was, and like the game, it quickly became no contest.
Alabama had 74 yards rushing before Notre Dame attempted a running play.
“The O-line came out and got great push,” Lacy said.
Notre Dame’s defense wasn’t accustomed to being pushed around in such a manner, and the Tide was surprised to be so dominant.
“I never saw that coming,” tackle Cyrus Kouandjio said, “but it happened.”