Johnson Final Thoughts: It's 2002 Ohio State
Posted Jan 7, 2013

Terry Johnson's Final Thoughts before the 2013 BCS championship

Fiutak: Great matchup, okay teams
Cirminiello: Golson, Golson, Golson
Zemek: Trenches, trenches, trenches
Harrison: Is there really an SEC dominance?
Johnson: It's 2002 Ohio State
Doan: Matchup nightmare for Alabama

By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

- I'll go on record as saying that this will be a close game. After all, it features two of college football's best defenses in Alabama (1st) and Notre Dame (6th).

- Don't fall into the trap of thinking that the Irish can't win because they're a 9.5-point underdog. Ohio State won the National Championship Game in 2003 as an 11-point dog against a Miami team that had won 34 games in a row. While that doesn't mean a Notre Dame victory is probable, it certainly means that it's possible.

- Yes, it's fair to compare this year's Notre Dame team to the 2002-03 National Champions. Much like that Buckeye squad, the Fighting Irish had a number of close calls this year, narrowly escaping against Stanford and Pittsburgh.

- On the other hand, history would favor the Crimson Tide in this game. The SEC is 5-0 in BCS Championship Game when it enters the game as the No. 2 team in the country.

- More impressively, the conference has an 8-1 record in the title game, with the lone defeat coming at the hands of another SEC team.

- The key for the Notre Dame offense is to establish the run. The Crimson Tide allowed more than 3.5 yards per carry twice this season: once in a loss to Texas A&M (3.6 ypc) and the other in a near-loss against Georgia (3.9 ypc).

- More importantly, the Irish must capitalize on Alabama turnovers, something no one's been able to do this year. Although Nick Saban-coached teams are notorious for taking care of the football, the Crimson Tide has had a negative turnover margin in four games this year, but only lost one of them.

- It's imperative that Alabama get out to a quick start against the Irish to take them out of their game plan. Sure, Notre Dame has rallied from behind a couple of times this season, but is ill-equipped to erase a two-score lead against the nation's top defense.

- Look for the Crimson Tide to get the ball to Amari Cooper to take advantage of the Notre Dame D's biggest weakness. While the Fighting Irish secondary has played well this season, it struggled against the pass heavy offenses of Oklahoma and Boston College.