MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Notre Dame got a taste of life in the Southeastern Conference, and it soured the Irish’s first perfect season in a quarter of a century.
No. 2 Alabama captured its second straight BCS championship and third in four years by defeating No. 1 Notre Dame 42-14 in front of a Sun Life Stadium record crowd of 80,120.
Alabama’s victory gave the SEC its seventh straight national title. Notre Dame (12-1) was denied its first title since 1988, which was also its last undefeated season.
It’s a tough way to go out, said tight end and Bishop Dwenger graduate Tyler Eifert, who confirmed after the game this was his last game with the Irish and he will enter the NFL draft.
Bama was the better team today. They deserve it. The credit goes to them.
Alabama (13-1) outgained Notre Dame 529-302 as Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron went 20-for-28 passing for 264 yards with four touchdowns. Tide running back Eddie Lacy ran for 140 yards and a touchdown and caught a touchdown; running back T.J. Yeldon ran for 108 yards and a score; and Amari Cooper had 105 receiving yards with two touchdowns.
Lacy was named the most outstanding offensive player of the game, and Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, who had eight tackles, was named the most outstanding defensive player.
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson went 21-for-36 passing for 270 yards with a touchdown and an interception and got no help from a running game that produced only 32 yards. Eifert had six catches for 61 yards. Receiver DaVaris Daniels has six catches for 115 yards, and TJ Jones caught seven passes for 90 yards.
I was proud of the way we competed on both sides of the ball, Irish coach Brian Kelly said. I think when you look at there are a lot of positives and things we can draw from this game.
The Irish gave up their first first-quarter touchdown and first touchdown drive of more than 75 yards on the Tide’s opening possession as Lacy finished an 82-yard drive with a 20-yard scoring run 2:57 into the game.
Alabama pushed the lead to 14-0 with a 3-yard touchdown catch by tight end Michael Williams with 6:14 to play in the first quarter. Yeldon scored on a 1-yard run four seconds into the second quarter to give the Tide a 21-0 lead. Lacy closed the first-half scoring with an 11-yard touchdown catch to push the lead 28-0.
Notre Dame lost defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore in the second quarter for the rest of the game.
He suffered a significant knee injury, Kelly said.
Notre Dame’s first drive of the second half ended with an interception by Alabama safety Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix at the Tide’s 3, and Alabama then went a title-game record 97 yards on a scoring drive that ended with Cooper catching a 34-yard touchdown pass for a 35-0 lead.
Notre Dame responded with an 85-yard drive that ended with Golson’s 2-yard scoring plunge to cut Alabama’s lead to 35-7 and end the Tide’s streak of 108 minutes and 7 seconds of not giving up a point in BCS title games.
Alabama pushed its lead to 42-7 as Cooper caught a 19-yard touchdown pass. Notre Dame running back Theo Riddick capped the scoring with a 6-yard touchdown catch with 7:51 to play.
We didn’t represent our school, our team, our families, the way that we could have, said Irish linebacker Manti Te’o, who had 10 tackles in his final game. In that aspect, it is disappointing. But at the same time, I’m proud to be part of this team. The best thing about this experience is that it creates fire, it creates fuel for the guys staying here and the guys leaving. Everybody here tonight will be better because of it.