Alabama-Notre Dame: Notes on a scorecard
The Big Bowl went Dud Bowl again. Miami-Nebraska, OU-Southern Cal, Florida-Ohio State, LSU-Ohio State. Now Alabama-Notre Dame. The Crimson Tide routed the Irish 42-14. Here’s what went through my mind during the game:
* It’s time we stop underrating Alabama quarterbacks. Greg McElroy, solid. A.J. McCarron, solid. But both were more than solid. McElroy’s in the NFL (OK, the Jets, but still), and McCarron is more than a caretaker. McCarron showed against Notre Dame that he’s a playmaker. A big-time playmaker.
* Matchups. It’s all about matchups. Not that Alabama wouldn’t have beaten anyone that lined up Monday night.
But what a great matchup for Bama. Texas A&M showed the Tide’s susceptibility to a well-oiled spread. Put Oregon on that field last night, and we would have had a ballgame.
But Notre Dame’s power game played right into Alabama’s strength.
Look at Bama’s three national title games. LSU power game, Notre Dame power game, Texas spread with a backup quarterback.
Speaking of which, Garrett Gilbert – Garrett Gilbert! – showed up the best against Alabama. Pressed into service in the first quarter when Colt McCoy’s shoulder gave out, Gilbert at least put up a fight. Bama led 24-6 at halftime, but Gilbert flung two touchdowns in the second half to get the Longhorns within 24-21. Bama scored two TDs in the final 121 seconds to put away Texas 37-21, but Gilbert at least kept Texas in the game. He finished 15-of-40 passing with four interceptions, but threw for 186 yards and the two TDs.
Gilbert, we discovered, can’t play a lick. But just that style of offense at least sent Bama back on its heels.
* The OU-Notre Dame game in South Bend next September loses a little luster, but not much. Still a huge game for the Sooners, a chance to climb back up the national ladder.
* ESPN’s coverage was typically less than stellar. There are many things that ESPN does well. Game production is not one of them.
Next football season, watch NBC’s Sunday Night Football, then watch ESPN’s Monday Night Football. Study how much more professional everything is with NBC – from video quality to announcers to replays to everything.
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