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Notre Dame

BCS notebook

Alabama quarterback Tide’s driving force

– Alabama’s offensive line and running backs get most of the attention when talking about the No. 2 Crimson Tide’s offense.

But Notre Dame will not overlook quarterback AJ McCarron when the No. 1 Irish (12-0) play the No. 2 Tide (12-1) in the BCS championship game Monday.

“He’s the driver. He’s the coach on the field,” Irish defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said Thursday of McCarron.

“You can see he puts them in the right spots. … The quarterback conducts the game, just like if (Alabama coach) Nick Saban was taking the snap himself. I mean, he doesn’t put the team in bad spots.“I mean, it’s really an incredible organization to watch offensively led by the quarterback.”

McCarron has completed 191 of 286 passes for 2,669 yards with 26 touchdowns and three interceptions. Last season, when he led Alabama to its second national title in three years, he completed 219 of 328 passes for 2,634 yards with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions.

The other Hawaiian

Notre Dame senior Manti Te’o grabs all of the attention, but he said his story over becoming a star linebacker isn’t nearly as impressive as his childhood friend’s tale of coming to the Irish.

“I think a greater story is the Robby Toma story, a guy who’s about 5-foot-9, a buck-80 on a good day, and he is starting on a Division I football team, I don’t know if there’s anything else you can say about that,” Te’o said.

“He’s somebody that he will always go and perform, and he will work hard and he won’t complain.”

Different game

Alabama won last year’s championship in what was really just another SEC game when the Tide defeated LSU 21-0 in New Orleans.

Alabama center Barrett Jones said this year’s title game is different since it is against Notre Dame.

“Last year was really kind of a weird national championship because it was a team that we already played,” Jones said. “This year is much more like the 2009 game for me, you are playing an opponent that not only did we not play, but no one we played played them. You don’t have an exact measuring stick.

“But I will tell you what, Notre Dame is a really good team. They have a lot of very talented players, and they are very fundamental in their scheme. That is what makes a good defense, and I think we have a big challenge ahead of us.”