Alabama took the most-anticipated college football game in memory and embarrassed Notre Dame in Monday night's BCS National Championship Game in Sun Life Stadium.
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MIAMI GARDENS — Forget the drama.
And the hype? It faded fast.
This got ugly early with unmerciful efficiency. Alabama took the most-anticipated college football game in memory and embarrassed Notre Dame in Monday night's BCS National Championship Game in Sun Life Stadium.
The 42-14 final score was a formality after the Crimson Tide scored on its first three possessions and suffocated the Irish in theirs. It was supposed to be a defensive battle, but it was as once-sided as the other phases of the game.
Tide nose guard Jessie Williams said they broke Notre Dame's will with a late-second quarter touchdown and a 28-0 halftime lead.
"They kinda went down hill after halftime," the native Australian said. "I could feel it when we came back, they didn't want it too much."
With the blowout, Alabama staked its claim to the first dynasty of the 21st Century — becoming the first to win three titles in four years since Nebraska did so from 1994-97. The SEC's championship streak extended to seven dating back to Florida's 2006 title.
Only the 2005 Orange Bowl (USC 55, Oklahoma 19) was a more lopsided BCS title game. Alabama out-gained the previously unbeaten Irish 529-302 and nearly doubled the Irish possession time.
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy added his name to the all-time big-game performers with a dizzying display of speed and athleticism. Scoring on touchdowns on run of 20 yards and a catch spanning 11, the junior turned the Irish in circles. His spin move on linebacker Danny Spond to reach the end zone was his crowning moment in a night filled with them. Lacy finished with 140 yards on 20 carries and two catches for 17 yards.
The Tide (13-1) never gave Notre Dame a shot, with Alabama cruising to its second straight title.
The offensive domination was balanced as it was complete. Rushing yards totaled 265 followed by 264 through the air. Quarterback AJ McCarron found eight different receivers to exploit the young cornerbacks. The Tide hit six plays of 20-plus yards in the first half after Notre Dame allowed just 29 such gains all season.
Miami native Amari Cooper's homecoming couldn't have gone better. His six catches and 105 yards included touchdowns of 34 and 19 yards.
"There was big holes in their zone defense," Cooper said. "I saw the holes and I got to them. I was wide open."
McCarron completed 20 of 28 passes for 264 yards and four scores in.
But was he surprised Alabama stuck 42 on the nation's top scoring defense?
"Definitely," he said. "We watch film every week and we think we can dominate anyone we play. That's the great mindset we have as a team."
But the night belonged to the running backs.
True freshman T.J. Yeldon added 108 yards on 21 carries and another touchdown. The Tide lived with on the brutal left side of the offensive line with guard Chance Warmack and tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.
It was even worse for the Irish defense and its star. Heisman Trophy runner up Manti Te'o finished with 10 tackles, but whiffed on several others. Notre Dame then lost starting defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore to what coach Brian Kelly called "a significant" knee injury late in the first half.
"I'm obviously disappointed, not necessarily at all that we lost, " T'eo said. "But we just didn't represent our school, our team, our families the way that we could have."
Notre Dame's offense never found any real rhythm. While Alabama scored with ease on its first three possessions, the Irish managed just 16 first-quarter yards and a single first down. Quarterback Everett Golson looked to tight end Tyler Eifert on four of the first six passes, but completed just two as precious opportunities slipped away.
The Irish (12-1) didn't score until the final minutes of the third quarter on Golson's 2-yard touchdown run. He added a 6-yard pass to Theo Riddick with 7:51 left, but the outcome was determined long before. The redshirt freshman quarterback finished 21-for-36 for 270 yards and an interception thrown to Orlando Dr. Phillips graduate Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix.
And with the loss, Notre Dame's fairy tale run from preseason unranked to the last unbeaten contender entering bowl season. Alabama ultimately lost just once — 29-34 to Texas A&M — but outscored opponents by an average of four touchdowns a game.
It was also the fourth title Nick Saban, the Miami Dolphins coach from 2005-06. His first came in 2003 at LSU before leaving for the NFL a season later.
Now he has a full-fledged empire in Tuscaloosa solidified in his former stomping grounds. Even legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant never won three titles in four years.
"Whether I look it or not," Saban said, "I'm happy as hell."
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