A classic game? Nope, just classic Alabama domination

Touchdown, Alabama! And there were a bunch of those Monday night. (AP photo by John Bazemore)

Touchdown, Alabama! And there were a bunch of those Monday night. (AP photo by John Bazemore)

UPDATED WITH NICK SABAN QUOTES

Miami Gardens, Fla. – For a minute, this felt like a real event. That was the minute before kickoff, when the stadium was alive and both sides lived in hope. Then the game began, and it got …

Ugly? If you’d hoped for a competitive BCS championship game, yes. But in another way, what came after was a kind of brutal beauty. A great football team played at the peak of its power, and how often are we privileged to witness such brilliance? If this wasn’t quite UCLA beating No. 1 Houston 101-69 in the 1968 Final Four, it was pretty darn close.

Alabama led by seven points after three minutes, by 21 four seconds into the second quarter. At that moment, the Crimson Tide had outgained No. 1 Notre Dame 203 yards to 23 and had scored more points than the vaunted Irish defense had allowed in four quarters this season. It’s easy to say now that Notre Dame stands revealed as a fraud, but this is what Alabama does. It takes big-shouldered No. 1 teams — LSU last January, Notre Dame this time — and renders them puny by comparison.

Again we were reminded that there is no other league like the SEC, which has won seven BCS titles in succession and might win the next 77, but now we know that, even among the SEC’s array of heavyweights, there’s no program like Alabama and no coach like Nick Saban. This was once seen as the least of the past five Tide teams –  afterward, Saban said his men “certainly exceeded every expectation we had for them” — but it was again the best in the land.

Three of the past four BCS title games have been won by Alabama, and four of the past 10 championships have been taken by Saban. What began as domination by a conference has yielded to the singular excellence of one driven man. College football has its Krzyzewski, meaning a coach who isn’t just the best but the best by such a distance as to make it seem unfair.

Said Saban: “A world like ‘dynasty’ is not one I’m much interested in. I’m more interested in ‘accomplishment’ and ‘consistency’ and ‘performance.’ ”

SEC zealots will insists Notre Dame wouldn’t have gone unbeaten against an SEC-caliber schedule, and it probably wouldn’t. (Even Alabama didn’t.) But the Irish arrived as a proud and strong team that had beaten Stanford, which won the Pac-12, and Oklahoma, which finished tied atop the Big 12, and other Brand Names. But it was clear after one drive that Notre Dame at its best couldn’t touch Alabama, and rarely does Bama allow any opponent to look its best.

Eddie Lacy burst through holes as as broad as an airport runway, and those few times he encountered Irish resistance he shrugged it aside. The decorated Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was made to look ordinary, and the Irish lineman couldn’t lay a pinkie on AJ McCarron, who found receivers running free and easy. And when Alabama dazzles you with offensive footwork, you’re in for a long night.

Early in the second quarter, there came a moment when the difference in class was made manifest. The fleet Irish quarterback Everett Golson shook free on a third-down scramble and had a clear path to the first down. C.J. Mosley, whose tip of Aaron Murray’s final pass decided the hairbreadth SEC championship game, ran down Golson and stopped him short.

Only moments earlier, Irish coach Brian Kelly chose to try for a first down on fourth-and-five at the Alabama 39. The play failed, and it underscored how quickly Alabama can drive a sound coach to desperation. (Fun fact: When Notre Dame scored late in the third quarter, it marked the first points Bama had yielded in the 108 minutes and seven seconds in the BCS title game, a span over which it had outscored three opponents — Texas, LSU and now Notre Dame — 69-0.)

This game was 28-0 at the half — it would end 42-14 — and 28-nil wasn’t from the famous 31-0 halftime spread Alabama had amassed against No. 3 Georgia in Athens on Sept. 28, 2008. That game stands as the first watershed victory of Saban’s Bama, and almost everything since has been a consolidation of gains, and who out there seems apt to stem the raging Tide?

Said Saban, quibbling: “We got here by five yards. Georgia was five yards from scoring (to win the SEC title).”

Before Monday night, no school had repeated as BCS champion. Alabama now has two in a row, and three of four, and the belief in Tide circles is that next year’s team will be even better. Just as the SEC has lapped the rest of the collegiate field, Alabama has lapped the mighty SEC. Even within the only conference that matters, there’s only one team that matters. Nick Saban’s team.

“This was really special,” he said, “and someday when I’m sitting on the hill watching the stream go by, I might think even deeper thoughts. But what about next year’s team? Somebody’s got to think about that.”

By Mark Bradley

414 comments Add your comment

Chris

January 7th, 2013
11:42 pm

Goes to show Georgia under Richt was a pretty good football team this past season.

Chris

January 7th, 2013
11:42 pm

and oh yeah FIRST btw lol

Chris

January 7th, 2013
11:45 pm

and Bradley, your prediction that GA would play in the NC game this season was pretty much right after all. That SEC championship game was the NC game.

Mark Bradley

January 7th, 2013
11:46 pm

Thanks, Chris.

HPDawg

January 7th, 2013
11:50 pm

I agree Chris, ND was not even close to competing with the Tide…..

NICK SABAN: The Most-Interesting Coach in the World

January 7th, 2013
11:50 pm

I don’t always play for the BCS National Championship…

Wait a second…

Actually, I certainly do.

Stay CRIMSON, My Friends.

jbill

January 7th, 2013
11:52 pm

Great job Mark all year long..Thanks!

BobDawg

January 7th, 2013
11:52 pm

….and Dawgs should finish well within the Top 5…. The Irish may drop out of the top 10…

SenoiaDawgs

January 7th, 2013
11:53 pm

Most certainly the NC game was played in Atlanta.

I think the proof is in the pudding with ND being a fraud. Just look how TXAM throttled OU.

Go Dawgs lets see Bama in Atlanta next year.

collins

January 7th, 2013
11:53 pm

cant wait for next year…uga, a&m, florida, clowney at usc, lsu, bama…should be an incredible 2013 season. congrats tide and go dawgs.

Mark Bradley

January 7th, 2013
11:53 pm

Thanks, jbill.

Nutnbutme

January 7th, 2013
11:54 pm

I nominate the Alabama – UGA (SEC Championship) as BCS Championship game. Irish, go home & hide beneath ur shamrocks

NICK SABAN: The Most-Interesting Coach in the World

January 7th, 2013
11:56 pm

If not for that laptop-stealing, special-ed, semi-pro, “athletic” quarterback at Auburn a couple of years ago, I would now have 4 BCS Titles in a row.

Stay CRIMSON, My Friends.

Roll Tide!

2013

January 7th, 2013
11:56 pm

well for all you uga homers, TA&M only had 2 losses and they beat bama so i think they are better than uga and should be ranked ahead of ga

Snoop Dawg

January 7th, 2013
11:58 pm

If UGA ever wants the crystal football, to win the NC, then Richt has to be as good as Saban.

Saban is several orders of magnitude superior to Richt, as is his entire coaching staff. It permeates the players.

UGA can never get there with Richt at the controls.

This is as good as it gets for UGA. Enjoy while you can, folks.

RGB

January 7th, 2013
11:58 pm

So where is the hygienically-challenged Moist Dawg complaining about how sorry Alabama is?

I hear the sound of crickets…..

Roll Tide Everybody!!!

Snoop Dawg

January 7th, 2013
11:59 pm

I love UGA, but the NC was played in Tuscaloosa, not Atlanta.

Chris

January 8th, 2013
12:00 am

It is I who thanks you Mr. Bradley. Your predictions were spot on this season. Also, your article after the Georgia loss to Bama in the SEC (national championship game) helped me and many of my Dawg friends get through some tough days. Really have been impressed with your work this past year.

DawgDad

January 8th, 2013
12:00 am

Have to admire this Bama team and the way they play. Say what you may about Nick Saban, he’s a great coach and leader. Excellence was on display.

MarinerDawg

January 8th, 2013
12:00 am

Jawga should finished ranked # 2 no lower than #3 . But it make me sick that we couldn’t finish the drill against bama when we were up 21- 10. We would’ve killed ND

DILLIGAF

January 8th, 2013
12:00 am

Sweet Home Alabama….great song but I’ll take Gods’ country, Georgia, anyday!

UGA85′
GATA!

Bama15

January 8th, 2013
12:01 am

Where the hell is Lou Holtz?

Fake Steve

January 8th, 2013
12:01 am

GameCock Nation tips its hat to Bama…. Go SEC and Go Gamecocks

Snoop Dawg

January 8th, 2013
12:02 am

Why can’t UGA hire Saban away from Alabama? Alabama is a lousy state to live in.

we steal ruin this state

January 8th, 2013
12:02 am

Chris, BAMA won that game as well. Did you forget?

DawgDad

January 8th, 2013
12:03 am

“Saban is several orders of magnitude superior to Richt, as is his entire coaching staff. It permeates the players.

UGA can never get there with Richt at the controls.”

Several orders of magnitude? About five yards? Really, please go grasp some perspective.

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can stop it

January 8th, 2013
12:04 am

Get used to it boys.

oh brother!

January 8th, 2013
12:04 am

2013…sorry pal…that logic doesnt work..if it did…we beat UF and TAM didn’t..so we are definitely better and beat a higher ranked team in the bowl.

Bama15

January 8th, 2013
12:04 am

SportsCenter already has the Bama #15 helmet up!

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can stop it

January 8th, 2013
12:05 am

Notre Dame waited 22 years for a national championship game.

Man, that’s a long time…

Chris

January 8th, 2013
12:05 am

Snoop Dawg…no coach is as good as Saban, so that makes your post silly. Saban won’t win every one. Richt was very very close to winning one this year as he has been a couple other times while at Georgia. No, Richt is not as good as Saban as a coach, but the problem with your statement is that it leaves out the fact NO other coach in all of college football is as good as Saban.

2013

January 8th, 2013
12:05 am

how about 3 NCs in 4 years, that is MAGNITUDE

Snoop Dawg

January 8th, 2013
12:05 am

Dawg Dad, don’t know what you’ve been drinking, but we can talk after you’ve sobered up…

SEC Dominance

January 8th, 2013
12:06 am

To the Real SEC fans and Fans of College Football, thank you for showing class while your SEC Brothers carry on the banner of the conference.

To the others who still have a harsh reaction to losing in the SECCG, YOU need to grow up!

Mora less Petrino

January 8th, 2013
12:06 am

Chris, agree with you about the SEC Championship!
Now Mark, write an article about how the Falcons need to figure out how to get Barrett Jones and Eddie Lacy, then send it to Tom Dimitroff.
Roll Tide! Roll Birds! Hope the Falcons keep it rolling in the South this Sunday.

dawgfan

January 8th, 2013
12:06 am

Notre Dame might go 8-4 in the SEC, if they’re as lucky as they were this year.

2013

January 8th, 2013
12:07 am

they are the only team to beat the NC, they should be #2

Snoop Dawg

January 8th, 2013
12:07 am

Chris, close doesn’t cut it. That is what Saban is all about.

Michael "The Dynasty" Vick

January 8th, 2013
12:07 am

Chris, said another way. GA fans have got to be hating Richt again. Even GA’s pathetic performance against Neb would have been enough to win the NC. No way did tonight define Alabama’s greatness. It defined ND’s weakness. Remember the Irish went to overtime with Pitt. At that point, they were exposed.

Another Richt almost, coulda, woulda, shoulda.

Chris

January 8th, 2013
12:08 am

to “we steal ruin this state” … nope didn’t forget. Alabama is the best team in the land this year. No doubt about it. Not sure what your point is.

Lowcountry Jacket

January 8th, 2013
12:08 am

UGA has a legitimate claim on the #2 ranking… Congrats Dogs!

Mr. Obvious

January 8th, 2013
12:08 am

I just hope “The Great JiveTalker” doesn’t try to take way that BCS Title Alabama worked so hard to win on its own and redistribute it by spreading it around to lazy, worthless underachieving football programs such as Northwestern, Penn State or UGA.

KJ

January 8th, 2013
12:08 am

Some of you need to stop using the word “magnitude” like you know what it means.

Buckeye - Not

January 8th, 2013
12:08 am

Where is he? If Urban was so good; why did he leave the most competitive conference in the country for Delaney land.?

Can’t cut it nut boy?

El-Toro GATA

January 8th, 2013
12:08 am

this tells you that Georgia is the second best team in the land. I dont think ND will have a chance against Georgia either.

01HAWK

January 8th, 2013
12:09 am

And to think the 2013 BAMA team will probably be better.

You may want to kidnap SABAN. He is going to get alot of coaches in the SEC FIRED.

Mark

January 8th, 2013
12:09 am

Discipline on the Ala team is a hallmark for college football. My one complaint with Coach Richt is the lack of on the field discipline during the game. Way to much jaw jacking. Saban is indeed the standard for college coaches. Go Dawgs. Cant wait for next season….

Red Stick

January 8th, 2013
12:09 am

There’s no doubt Saban is the best coach in college football. I am one LSU fan who is thankful that he turned us around.

Congratulations to Alabama.

Geaux Tigers

Ted Striker

January 8th, 2013
12:10 am

Fine article.

(However I think even Saban would disagree that “there’s only one team that matters” in the SEC)

kreedham

January 8th, 2013
12:10 am

Mark and fellow bloggers….Where do you thinkg UGA will end up. I say Tide, Oregon, Stanford, GA, ND falls to 5th. If game had been close GA would be 5th.