As the days, hours, and minutes begin winding down, leading us to Monday night’s BCS showdown, the nation begins wondering what to do with the remaining time. Too much time on their hands has led to every theory, hypothesis and prediction under the sun involving Notre Dame v. Alabama.
LSU, Mississippi State and Florida soiling themselves in their bowls surely didn’t help. Pundits with SEC…or more accurately, Alabama…fatigue want to find any reason to believe the South’s giant of the gridiron won’t be able to do it again against the fan favorite, the Fighting Irish.
A few myths are out there that give some hope, others cause for concern. But are they legitimate? Or is it more media spin to heap more gasoline on the bonfire of interest in Alabama’s “next” game-of-the-century?
Here are just a few:
1. Myth: Notre Dame’s defense can and will stymie Alabama’s offense.
Why? Because LSU’s defense stymied the Alabama offense. But did it? Giving November 3rd’s game in Baton Rouge another look, it wasn’t LSU’s defense that took Bama to task. It was LSU’s OFFENSE that stymied the Alabama offense.
LSU held the ball an astounding 39:45, unheard of in the Nick Saban era at Alabama. Zach Mettenberger played the game of his life, a staple it seems for quarterbacks when facing the Tide. But Alabama still managed 21 points in just 20 minutes of football. Had the Bama defense gotten the Tigers off the field, Alabama’s point total could and likely would have creeped closer to its per game average.
So before drawing comparisons to LSU’s stout defense and Notre Dame’s, focus on the fact that it was LSU’s offense, not their defense, that nearly won the game for them.
2. Myth: Alabama is not a good passing offense.
In fact, Alabama is fifth in the country in yards per pass attempt (9.1 yards per attempt). Any coach in the land at any level of football would take that. The only reason AJ and company don’t throw for more yards is because they seldom throw the ball in the fourth quarter. Often with large leads, they don’t have to.
3. Myth: Alabama was “exposed” against Texas A&M.
If one watches all 12 of the Aggie games this season, you’ll quickly note that once they settled into their new scheme, they put up about a thousand points on everybody.
Except for Alabama.
Nine points in the final 45 minutes, and 29 total for the game. Manziel’s Aggies had a dang good day against the Bama defense, but nothing anywhere close to what they did from the midway point to everybody else.
Oh, and despite Lou Holtz’s idiotic, slobber-filled, on-camera rants, Everett Golson is no Johnny Manziel.
4. Myth: Alabama is vulnerable to mobile QBs.
First off, the obvious. Pretty much everyone has trouble with mobile quarterbacks, but Bama has less trouble than most. But secondly, the mobile QBs who have beaten Alabama, with Johnny Football being the exception, beat the Tide with their ARM, not their LEGS. Cam had 39 yards rushing in ’10. Tebow converted three third and goals against Bama on PASS PLAYS in ’08. Denard Robinson did jack squat.
Only Manziel ran on the Alabama defense, and even he did more with his arm than his legs (although it was close). Notre Dame’s problem is that Golson can’t throw nearly as well as Johnny Football, and can’t run nearly as well as any of the QBs just mentioned. He may have a solid game, but he certainly hasn’t proven he can beat Alabama all by himself.
5. Myth: The Alabama offense isn’t ultra-impressive.
Alabama is fourth in the country in points per play. Not too shabby. If the Tide didn’t burn clock in the second half most of the season, and if they really wanted to score in the fourth quarter, Alabama would have far more impressive totals. As it is, they are already impressive.
There are more myths out there, but the fact is, you can’t compare anyone on Alabama’s schedule, single out statistics, and point to a reason why Notre Dame will beat the Tide Monday night. Anybody can win on any given Saturday…er…Monday night, but some of the myths that’ve made their way over the airwaves are downright absurd.
But then, when it comes to myths, what would you expect in a game with leprechauns?
(Special thanks to Mike McCrary for contributing to this article.)