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2013 BCS Championship Notre Dame vs Alabama: Start Time, Odds, Free Pick

Brian Kelly - Discover BCS National Championship - Head Coaches Press Conference

The 2013 BCS Championship Game will take place tonight and we will see the Notre Dame Fighting Irish take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in Miami, Florida. The game is scheduled for an 8:30 PM (Eastern) start time and it will be televised live on ESPN. Currently the odds for the game have Alabama favored by 9.5 points, while the total sits at 41. Check out Sportsbook Spy to find out what side the Public is taking on all today's games. 

Free Analysis: It is a familiar setting for Nick Saban and his squad, as Alabama will be playing for its third national title in the last four years, looking to become the first team since Nebraska in the early 1990s to complete that feat. Alabama's postseason resume is obviously lengthy, as the team has captured 14 national championships in all (10 consensus), including last year's 21-0 shutout of LSU. This is Alabama's third appearance in the BCS Title Game. The Crimson Tide lead the nation in all-time bowl appearances (59) and bowl victories (33). This marks the ninth straight season the team has earned a bowl bid. Tide QB AJ McCarron leads the nation in passing efficiency, completing 67% of his passes for 9.3 YPA, 26 TD and just 3 INT. In last year's title game, he played mistake-free football against a talented LSU team, completing 23-of-34 passes (68%) for 234 yards, 0 TD and 0 INT. But this year, he has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 12 of 13 games. Freshman WR Amari Cooper is his go-to receiver with a team-high 53 catches, 895 yards and 9 TD. Cooper has gained 423 yards and 4 TD over the past four games, helping his team win the SEC Championship with eight catches for 128 yards and a touchdown with 3:15 remaining. But Alabama remains a run-oriented offense at 225 YPG (19th in nation) on 5.6 yards per carry. Both Eddie Lacy (1,182 rush yds, 16 TD) and T.J. Yeldon (1,000 rush yds, 11 TD) have been outstanding this season. Defense has been the name of the game in Tuscaloosa under Saban and this season is no different, as Alabama ranked second nationally in points allowed (10.7 ppg), first in rush defense (79.8 ypg), fourth in pass defense (166.2 ypg) and first in total defense (246.0 ypg). A pair of First-Team All-Americans reside on the defensive side of the ball in junior linebacker C.J. Mosley and junior cornerback Dee Milliner. A talented secondary was led by Milliner (51 tackles, two INTs, one fumble recovery), but he is certainly not alone, as senior Robert Lester (42 tackles, four INTs) is an NFL-calibber defensive back as well.

A two-time National Coach of the Year, Brian Kelly has once again transformed a program. After leading Cincinnati to an undefeated regular season in his third year at the helm in 2009, he has done it again, this time in South Bend, where Notre Dame makes its return to the biggest stage. The Fighting Irish sit atop the national polls heading into the championship game at a flawless 12-0, which includes victories over four top-25 foes. Notre Dame has 11 national titles to its credit, although the last one came back in 1988. The Irish sit with a 15-16 all-time bowl record, as the postseason has not been kind to the team since the mid-90s. Notre Dame experienced a nine-game losing streak in bowls from 1994-2006, but finally ended the skein with back-to-back wins over Hawaii (2008) and Miami-Florida (2010). QB Everett Golson has averaged just 194 passing YPG with 11 TD and 5 INT this season, but he's been stronger since November with 248 passing YPG, 7 TD and 2 INT in four games. Senior TE Tyler Eifert leads Notre Dame in receptions (44) and receiving yards (624), but has just one touchdown in his past five games combined. The Fighting Irish's ground game is also paced by seniors, Theo Riddick (880 rush yds, 5 TD) and Cierre Wood (740 rush yds, 4 TD). Riddick is coming off a career-high 146 rushing yards in a 22-13 win at USC and hopes to have his number called for more than the eight carries he's gotten in each of the two bowls he's played in, gaining 68 yards on 16 carries (4.3 YPC). Wood rushed for 81 yards (6.8 YPC) and a touchdown in the 2010 Sun Bowl, but was held to 60 yards on 18 carries (3.3 YPC) in last year's Champs Sports Bowl loss to Florida State. This duo is a big reason why the Irish rank 11th in FBS in time of possession (32:34). Where Notre Dame has really had its greatest success is on the defensive side of the football. The Irish rank first in the nation in points allowed (10.3 ppg) as well as red-zone defense, limiting foes to just eight touchdowns in 33 attempts this year. The Irish also have star power on defense, led by unanimous All-American Manti Te'o in the middle. The senior linebacker saved his best for last, as Te'o was not only the Heisman runner-up, but became the most decorated player in NCAA history this season, by capturing the Butkus Award, Lombardi Award, Nagurski Award, Bednarik Award, Maxwell Award, Lott Trophy and the Walter Camp Player of the Year.

Free Pick: Those that know me from Pregame know that I am a HUGE Irish fan, so no play on the side here, but I will take a stab at the Under. This just has defensive battle written all over it, especially since both teams have had extra time to prepare for these offenses. Both teams are similar in their style of play as both teams are run oriented and conservative, know that they both have strong defenses to pick up the slack. All that running and efense will certainly chew up clock. I expect a 17-14 type of game here.



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MovieCollege Football Free Picks: Notre Dame vs Alabama Betting
What college football bettors need to know about Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Alabama Crimson Tide on Monday (1/07/13) - a free pick from Pregame.com's Bryan Leonard with Marco D'Angelo and host Scott Spreitzer.