- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 2, 2012

College football’s national title game will generate plenty of hype.

It will stir plenty of excitement over the tradition of both programs involved, even if collegiate sports power brokers prove on a weekly basis they care little for the past besides the money they can milk from it.

And it surely will lead to incredible television ratings. 

What it probably will not produce is points.

Notre Dame is No. 1, both in the final regular-season polls and the national rankings in scoring defense. Alabama, the Southeastern Conference champion after Saturday’s 32-28 defeat of Georgia, checks in at No. 2 in both measures.

So what can be expected when the Fighting Irish (who are chasing their first national title since 1988) and the Crimson Tide (which is seeking its third championship in four years) meet in Miami next month? It likely will not be a shootout befitting the wide-open style increasingly common throughout the sport.

Alabama leads the nation in total defense, yielding 246 yards per game. Only two teams — Louisiana State and Texas A&M — cracked 400 yards against the Crimson Tide.

Notre Dame didn’t generate over-the-top absurd numbers in holding opponents to 286.8 yards a game. But it never yielded more than 379 yards (Oklahoma), and only one other team (Navy) surpassed 310 yards.

Get ready to hear about Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o and Alabama’s Adrian Hubbard — a lot. Yes, they are linebackers, not quarterbacks, but they symbolize what the championship game will likely be about.

Weekend risers

Collin Klein. The Kansas State quarterback rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another as the Wildcats dispatched Texas to earn the Big 12 title and a Fiesta Bowl bid. Klein’s numbers for the season: 890 yards and 22 touchdowns rushing, plus 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns passing, a strong showing for the likely Heisman Trophy finalist.

Dave Doeren. The Northern Illinois coach won Friday as the Huskies outlasted Kent State in overtime to earn their second straight Mid-American Conference title. Then he won Saturday, accepting a deal to become N.C. State’s coach. Doeren, who was 23-4 in two seasons at Northern Illinois, will receive $1.8 million annually over a five-year deal in Raleigh.

Montee Ball. The Wisconsin tailback set the NCAA record for career rushing touchdowns, reaching the end zone three times in the Big Ten title game to bring his four-year total to 76. He finished with 21 carries for 202 yards — his fourth career 200-yard day — as the Badgers secured their third straight Rose Bowl invitation.

Weekend decliners

Skip Holtz. The South Florida coach was fired after three seasons and a 16-21 mark, including a forgettable 3-9 record this year and just one victory in the Bulls’ last 10 games. But South Florida also is a decliner since it still resides in a gutted Big East. Holtz didn’t work out, but how much better a coach will the Bulls find given their place in the current landscape.

Nebraska. What a feeble performance from the Cornhuskers, who absorbed a 70-31 railroading at the hands of Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. Nebraska looked lifeless on defense, which does explain the 42-10 halftime deficit. A bowl loss would leave the Huskers (10-3) with four losses for the fifth straight year under Bo Pelini — far from being either mediocre or elite.

The WAC. It was a sad day for the 50-year-old league, which saw its final football game played. Texas State (a member only for this season) blasted New Mexico State 66-28 — and that was after a thoroughly appropriate 77-point first half for a conference that built its reputation on head-spinning offensive displays.

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