BCS Championship Game: #2 Alabama vs #1 Notre Dame

Jan 7, 2013 (8pm EST):  #1 Notre Dame (12-0) vs #2 Alabama (12-1, 7-1 SEC) at Sun Life Stadium

Here’s a quick guide to the arguments/debates/discussions regarding the upcoming Alabama vs Notre Dame match up.  And since statistically, practically and according to the Vegas odds makers, Alabama is favored to win this game (by 10 points to be exact), the debate (derived from the argument going on in my head) focuses mostly on why that is so and the counter argument to it:

For Alabama (and the counter-arguments):

  • FOR BAMA: Alabama will win because they have Nick Saban.  Saban has won 3 national titles in the last ten years, including 2 in the past three seasons for Alabama (one for LSU in 2003) and his team is the defending champion from 2011.
  • AGAINSTYes, but this isn’t 2011Bama lost seven (7) defensive starters off of that 2011 championship team, including three 1st round draft picks.  That type of talent is irreplaceable.
  • FOR BAMA:  Is it?  Alabama is almost identical on paper to last year’s championship team.
  • AGAINST:  Almost doesn’t count.  Having a passing defense that “fell” from 1st to 4th is trivial.  But Bama gave up over 700 yards more through the air this year than they did last year.
  • FOR BAMA:  Regardless, Alabama is in the SEC and an SEC team has won every single national championship since 2006.
  • AGAINST:  Statistically speaking, that shows the SEC is due for a loss.
  • FOR BAMA: Speaking of statistics, Notre Dame and Alabama might be similar teams on paper (strong defense, strong running game, minimal passing game), but in the few categories where they differ, Alabama is dominant.  One of those categories is passing efficiency.  Notre Dame is just 74th in that category, while Alabama is ranked 1st in the nation.  Quarterback A.J. McCarron has passed for 26 touchdowns compared to just 3 interceptions and is completing 67% of his passes.
  • AGAINST:  One thing to note in examining their strong passing efficiency on offense is that the passing efficiency defense of their SEC opponents has been relatively average (despite the fact that the SEC is so strong defensively).  The SEC average is to allow a passer rating of 124.56, but the average of Alabama’s SEC opponents is much worse–allowing a 131.33 average passer rating.
  • FOR BAMA:  If you’re going to analyze why the pass efficiency defense of Alabama’s opponents might be low, you must take into account the fact that those teams face higher quality offenses in the SEC.  Of the main conferences, the SEC ranks 2nd in terms of passing rating.
  • AGAINST: How do you know it’s not the opposite?  Perhaps it’s the poor passing efficiency defenses that allow the passing rating to be so high?
  • FOR BAMA:  I know because I watch the games.  The SEC is very good and numbers can only be used to bolster an argument, not to define it.
  • AGAINST:  You stole that theory from me.
  • FOR BAMA:  Furthermore, another critical statistical differential is scoring offense.  After all, just like calories, it’s not the quality, it’s the quantity.  If you eat 3500 calories more than you burn, even if it’s pure protein (no fat, no carbs), despite how healthy that may sound, you still will gain a pound.  And if you score more points than your opponent, regardless of how you get them, you will win the game.  Alabama is scoring over 38 points a game (14th in nation), while the Irish are averaging just 26.75 (74th in nation).
  • AGAINST:  In this anti-carb, anti-sugar era, no one seems to understand that concept that calories are really the only thing that matter.  But I digress.  I have no counter to that other than Alabama could have outscored its opponents 100-1 this year, but unfortunately, they don’t carry the extra points over from week to week.  Right now the score is 0-0.

For Notre Dame (and the counter arguments):

  • FOR ND:  God, Touchdown Jesus and the power of three.
  • AGAINST: God might have better things to do.

Ultimately Bear Bryant and Knute Rockne are the only two debating this topic who might actually know the outcome before it happens.  For the rest of us here on earth, we will just have to watch the game.  Sounds good to me.

And p.s., go Irish…