By David Climer, The Tennessean
One of these years, a team from outside the SEC will win the national championship.
But it won't be this year.
good as Notre Dame is - and the Fighting Irish's body of work merits
the No. 1 national ranking - Alabama should win the BCS Championship
game and extend the SEC's death grip on the Waterford crystal trophy to
These days, about the only way to get the trophy away
from the SEC is to break it. And that's exactly what happened last
summer when an Alabama player's father tripped over a rug and knocked
the $30,000 trophy off its stand and into pieces.
that trophy and figures to add another tonight. It should be close -
certainly closer than the double-digit betting line Vegas had assigned
to it - but the Crimson Tide is the better team.
pulls this off - not if, when - the Tide will qualify as one of the true
dynasties of college football. Only Notre Dame in the '40s and Nebraska
in the '90s won three national championships in four years.
the majority of the college football world is suffering from SEC
fatigue. Aside from the run of national championships, many grow weary
of constantly hearing about the superiority of SEC football.
Never mind that it's true.
Even Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly got a bit miffed about this. During preparations for the game last week, Kelly told reporters:
"The SEC's not going to run this thing for 20 years."
then pointed out - correctly - that the SEC has not been untouchable in
the postseason. Clemson edged LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Louisville
dominated Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
Kelly has rebuilt the Notre
Dame program in the image of an SEC team. He has recruited and developed
superior talent on the offensive and defensive lines.
this matchup is so intriguing. Most other bowls have turned into track
meets. This one figures to be a heavyweight fight.
Cue Alabama center Barrett Jones. He took one look at Notre Dame on tape and surmised: "They look like an SEC defense."
they play like one, too. The Irish went unbeaten against a tough
schedule, beating a very physical Stanford team in South Bend and going
on the road to overpower Oklahoma in the fourth quarter.
the unbeaten regular season was aided and abetted by the luck of the
Irish. Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor clearly crossed the goal
line for what would have been the tying touchdown but officials ruled
the play dead before Taylor broke the plane.
missed a 33-yard field goal in overtime. And don't forget that Southern
Cal coach Lane Kiffin chose to run the ball into the teeth of the Notre
Dame defense on the goal line rather than use his team's speed on the
Alabama's path was a bit easier, although it didn't
look that way going into the season. Opening opponent Michigan was
grossly overrated. Arkansas was in disarray after a tumultuous
offseason. Rival Tennessee was easy pickings.
As it turned out, Alabama played only three top-tier teams - LSU, Texas A&M and Georgia. And the Tide lost to A&M.
sum, this isn't going to be pretty. But that's fine with Nick Saban.
With more than a month to prepare for the championship game, he'll put
his team in position to win a shoving match.
Maybe Kelly's right. The SEC's not going to run this thing for 20 years.
But the run will extend to seven years tonight.