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January 8, 2013

In the end, Crimson Tide can lay claim to a dynasty

— A season of destiny, as it had been billed in South Bend, was no match for a newly-minted dynasty from Tuscaloosa.

The return to glory for Notre Dame, which hasn't won a national championship since 1988, will have to wait after Alabama destroyed the Fighting Irish to claim its third national championship in four years Monday night at Sun Life Stadium.

Alabama (13-1), scored 28 first-half points en route to a 42-14 win in the BCS National Championship game. So much for the most-anticipated match-up of the BCS era.

For Alabama it was a coronation as the Crimson Tide claimed the storied program's 15th national championship.

For Notre Dame it was another BCS bowl game collapse. Including appearances in the 2000 and 2006 Fiesta Bowls and the 2007 Sugar Bowl, the Irish are 0-4 in BCS bowl games and have been outscored, 158-57.Notre Dame didn't even get on the board until 4:08 was left in the third quarter on a 2-yard scramble by quarterback Everett Golson, making it 35-7. At that point the score barely provoked a polite applause.

Whatever luck the Irish used to get into this game after an unlikely 12-0 start, was obviously used up shortly after kickoff.

A raucous Irish crowd that seemed to outnumber Alabama's contingent was quieted on the opening drive and really didn't have much cause to cheer the rest of the game.

But they did have reason to boo.

Trailing 7-0, the Irish were forced to punt on their opening drive. Alabama returner Christion Jones fumbled the punt and Notre Dame's Zeke Motta recovered it. However, the officials ruled that a Notre Dame player had touched Jones first and called a penalty on the Irish.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was livid, screaming at the officials on the field, but the call remained.

Television replays show the ball was already loose. Instead of having the ball inside Alabama's 15 yard-line with a chance to tie the game, Alabama had the ball at their 39-yard line and would march down the field to take a 14-0 lead.

Notre Dame never recovered and Alabama was never seriously challenged after that. Exactly what couldn't happen if the Irish were to have a chance had happened.

One play into the second quarter and Alabama led 21-0. It got so bad early for Notre Dame that Kelly decided to decided to go for it on fourth and 5 from midfield. There was 13:30 left in the second quarter at that point. That decision also failed.

Alabama was just clearly better than Notre Dame, adding another national title notch for the SEC conference, which now boasts the past seven national champions. It wasn't even close and prompted chants of "SEC," from the Bama fans with two minutes remaining in the game. Many of the Irish fans, however weren't around to hear it, having already seen enough.

Notre Dame lost because a defense that at one point in the season went 17 consecutive quarters without allowing a touchdown, gave up three in the first 15:04 Monday night.

They lost because a defense that gave up just two rushing touchdowns in its previous 12 games, yielded three in the first half alone.

They lost because a defense that held nine teams to fewer than 300 total yards this year was gashed for 309 in just two quarters.

They lost because AJ McCarron is a more mature, more experienced quarterback than freshman Everett Golson who didn't necessarily play poorly for the Irish, but just couldn't make a big play when he needed it.

They lost because they were overmatched at every position on the field, yes, even middle linebacker.

It's never a good sign when your safety leads your team in tackles with 16 as Motta did for Notre Dame.

Notre Dame's glory day will have to wait. This night, and this season belongs to Alabama.

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