MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly has been a head coach since 1991, but all of that experience served no purpose in resolving the problems that he and his Fighting Irish faced against Alabama in Monday's 2013 BCS National Championship Game at Sun Life Stadium.
The Crimson Tide (13-1) won their third national championship in four seasons in convincing fashion 42-14 in front of a stadium record 80,120 fans.
The victory was so resounding, that Alabama made no pretense from the opening kickoff as to what it was going to do against the vaunted Fighting Irish defense. It was simply a matter of Notre Dame not being able to do anything about it.
“We were beat today by a better football team,” Kelly said. “I don't know if they were 21 points, 28, 35, but they beat us today, and we've got another step that we have to take in the development of our program.”
The Alabama offense did whatever it wanted to; whenever it wanted to do it. And it started with the five offensive linemen pushing the heralded Irish defensive front all over the field.
That punishment opened running lanes as wide as I-95 and Tide quarterback AJ McCarron's jersey remained lily white, even through the post-game celebration.
“We just needed to execute better,” Notre Dame safety Zeke Motta said. “Schematically I think that we did the right thing, and I believe that. They didn't do anything different that we didn't expect, it was just a matter of execution and playing the right way.”
Motta led Notre Dame with tackles (16), which is never a positive sign when a safety does that.
The Crimson Tide wasted no time in letting the anticipated 30 million people watching on national television that perhaps catching up on Discovery Channel's “The Amish Mafia” might make for better viewing, unless you enjoy observing perfection.
Alabama scored on its first three drives and led 21-0 four seconds into the second quarter.
It took a 28-0 lead into halftime, and eventually led 35-0 before Notre Dame could finally generate any semblance of offense.
“It was pretty clear,” Kelly explained, “I mean, we had a hard time getting off the field, and a lot of that had to do with Alabama. They ran the ball effectively.
For us, we've been able to manage the run game. They were able to run the ball effectively, and then obviously when you do that, it opens up so much of the play-action game.”
Kelly spoke all week leading up to the game on the need to control the Tide running duo of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. Doing so wasn't just important, it was a requirement for winning.
Notre Dame (12-1) failed in that regard beyond belief.
Lacy (140 yards, for a 7-yard per carry average) and Yeldon combined for 248 yards rushing – and it could have easily been 348 - if Alabama coach Nick Saban had wanted it to be.
“Lacy made us miss (tackles),” Kelly said. “I thought his ability to shake us down was outstanding.
You know, I have to evaluate whether I did a good enough job as the head coach in getting tackling done for our players. I think everything is on the table when you see so many missed tackles.
But I would put most of it on a really outstanding back in Lacy and the way he ran. I was very impressed with him tonight.”