Let me start by saying I was wrong. As much as I believed Notre Dame was a team of destiny and fate, it was supremely outclassed by an immensely talented Alabama team better in every phase. Let me start that over: mentioning the two in the same sentence after Bama's 42-14 throttling of the Irish almost seems silly.
While we can -- and perhaps should -- speculate how Oregon, Florida or even Texas A&M would have been a better fit than the Domers, at least we know 2015 marks the first year of college football's mini-playoff. Monday night though, was all about Nick Saban's dynasty and a program that has now won three of the past four national championships, becoming the first to do so since Tom Osborne's Nebraska teams in the mid-'90s.
Running back Eddie Lacy set the tone early with a bruising style and enough speed to outrun the Irish second level. His initial 20-yard touchdown scamper showed enough power to get through the hole, and the speed to outrun Manti Te'o and the secondary. Furthermore, the offensive line abused the Irish front four, and freshman sensation tailback T.J. Yeldon showed us why he's a future top 10 pick. Quarterback AJ McCarron -- who finished the game 20-28 with four touchdowns -- exemplified the same traits that allowed him to lead the country in passing efficiency.
Truthfully, everyone talks about the Bama defense and rightfully so. But I thought the real story of this game was that Saban has adjusted his offense to run an up-tempo style. We think of the Tide as a ball-controlled attack that pounds the run all day. It certainly does, but this year, Saban has employed a tremendously different approach. After big plays, he'll have McCarron quickly snap the ball and either hand it off to Lacy or Yeldon, or throw a quick bubble screen to the outside. That's not how he won a title against LSU last season, nor is it how he captured the 2009 championship with Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson.
The coaching carousel of big-time college football becomes prevalent every off-season, which probably will forever be the case. Saban, who also won a title at LSU, is the rarest of leaders willing to adapt his own style to his personnel. McCarron is the most gifted quarterback he's coached and the growth he and this offense have shown from 2011 to 2012 is remarkable. Instead of conforming him, and the rest of his splendid offense, to his own system, Saban crafted this year's offense to best exploit opponents' defenses. People will say that Saban is a great recruiter and that anyone can win with such elite talent, but that's just not true. Saban, love him or hate him, is the most impressive of winners -- not too stubborn to change certain principles while maintaining the same brand of physical and disciplined football.
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