Golson put in impossible situation against Alabama

Monday night’s BCS National Championship Game was also a showdown between my head and my heart.

For as much as my heart was rooting for Myrtle Beach native and Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson to pick apart Alabama’s vaunted defense like a Jenga puzzle, my SEC-minded brain knew it was bad news for the Irish.

Notice I leave out the word “Fighting” in front of the Irish because, well, you saw the game, right? Notre Dame barely put up a fight against the Crimson Tide in the 42-14 blowout, but my head suspected as much.

I’ll never forget my initial reaction when we found out Golson’s team would meet Alabama in the big game. I told a big group of Irish fans that the Tide would roll by 30 points. Turns out I was wrong, but just barely.

That wasn’t some arrogant, pro-SEC prediction, but rather a fair assessment over the past seven years of what happens when an SEC foe meets an outsider for the national title. The SEC is 9-1 in the BCS championship game since its inception in 1998, and the lone loss came last season when Alabama and LSU reached the title tilt.

In the six BCS games that didn’t include an all-SEC showdown, the scoreboard is as lopsided as Monday night’s beatdown. The SEC has won the title game by a combined score of 204-106, an average of more than 16 points.

That might not sound like a lot for most college football contests, but this is supposed to be the Nos. 1 and 2 best teams in the country. It seems the SEC is still light years ahead of the rest of the country.

And we should have known based on what we saw this season. While Notre Dame was squeaking by to beat teams like Purdue, Pitt and BYU, Alabama was playing the best the SEC had to offer – Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M.

The lone loss to the Aggies showed the Tide was beatable, but we should have known in September that Notre Dame wasn’t the team to do it. Alabama routed Michigan 41-14 in the season opener and the Irish edged the Big Blue 13-6 a few weeks later.

I know, the games aren’t played on paper, although the Irish looked like they were tip-toeing on stationary instead of the gridiron on Monday. If Notre Dame did have a chance, it was taken away by a poor game plan. Convinced his team couldn’t run against Alabama’s defense, coach Brian Kelly put all the pressure on Golson.

Notre Dame came out throwing like Air Coryell, not Knute Rockne, and the Tide was more than ready for it. Furthermore, the Irish also decided to test all-SEC cornerback Dee Milliner, and he passed with flying colors. Of course, after Alabama scored touchdowns on its first two possessions, the Irish had to pass.

As bad as the offensive game plan was, the defensive one was even worse. The Irish defense that had held teams to less than 10 points per game allowed more than that in the first 10 minutes of Monday night’s game. Tide running back/wrecking ball Eddie Lacy turned Manti T’eo & Co. into his own personal stepping stones.

Not that it would have mattered. If the Irish couldn’t stop the ground game, this wouldn’t have been a contest even if Golson had turned in the performance of his life. But the good news is that Golson has two or three more years to bring Notre Dame back to the BCS title game, this time without the nerves and game plan.

It was great to see Golson come so far in such a short period of time, but it’s a lot to ask any quarterback to go up against a team like Alabama with one hand tied behind his back. Let’s hope the Irish and Golson chalk this one up to exactly what it was – a game against a superior opponent – and come back for another shot.

Next time, hopefully, against a non-SEC foe.

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