At First Glance…
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At First Glance…

O'Malley's weekly game notebook examines the best players, plays, and numbers of note from Monday night's 42-14 loss in the BCS Championship game. Its not for the faint of heart...

Offensive MVP: Everett Golson

Had an Irish running game been more than a rumor; had the defensive front seven not caved; and had Notre Dame tackled anyone in a white jersey, Everett Golson likely played well enough Monday night for Notre Dame to win a BCS Championship.

His numbers aren't especially impressive, not by comparison to game MVP A.J. McCarron, and especially considering most yardage and both touchdowns were accrued after the outcome was no longer in doubt. But Golson competed under duress, the triggerman of a one-dimensional attack against a defense that won individual and collective battles all over Sun Life Stadium's pristine field Monday night.

Golson finished with a touchdown pass and a touchdown run, amassing 270 passing yards -- his third-highest career total -- on 21 completions and 36 attempts. His lone interception was an expertly defended fade route down the right sideline that Alabama star safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix managed to spear before tumbling out of bounds.

In short, Golson's developing dual-threat magic is at present capable of carrying Notre Dame to a comeback win over Pittsburgh in November. Alabama in January is a different animal.

Offensive Game Balls: Redshirt-freshman DaVaris Daniels offered his best collegiate effort, producing a game-high 115 receiving yards while securing six receptions. Beyond the numbers, Daniels competed vs. tremendous, developed athletes on the outside and won more than his share of battles. He was the offense's early-game bright spot and the X-factor most assumed the team needed to upset the Tide.

Junior receiver T.J. Jones also won his share of snaps, breaking tackles after the catch en route to 90 receiving yards on a career-high seven receptions. Jones' consistent targeting by Golson on fade routes vs. bigger, faster, and equally athletically coordinated cornerbacks was however questionable, both in theory and its near-certain failure in practice.

Senior tight end Tyler Eifert was the obvious offensive focal point for Kelly's Irish. Unfortunately the Crimson Tide felt the same, limiting the competitive All-America to 61 yards on six receptions; its smaller cornerbacks holding their own against the oft-used fade routes to the 6'6" target outside.

Defensive MVP: The Scoreboard Clock

When it flipped to the fourth and final period, Alabama decided to stop scoring touchdowns...

Defensive Game Balls: Louis Nix showed championship heart, playing through a second-half leg injury and providing the precious few backfield moments enjoyed by Notre Dame's defensive front. Nix finished with five tackles including two for lost yardage before limping exhausted off the field -- the last player to make it to the post-game tunnel as the Crimson Tide celebrated a championship around him.

Senior Zeke Motta produced 16 tackles and a pass breakup, but missed far too many tackles and opportunities for drive altering stops in space. He and his fellow starting defensive backs accounted for a combined 34 of Notre Dame's 77 total tackles -- precious few within shouting distance of the line of scrimmage.

The Irish secondary had previously allowed just 10 passing plays in excess of 25 yards the entire regular season. Alabama had five such passing plays in the first half.

It should be noted that Notre Dame's linebackers were destroyed in space Monday night and not part of game ball equation.

"I said before the game we would not be denied," said Alabama right tackle D.J. Fluker. "We played the game out in our minds. When we watched film, we saw Boston College push them around. We knew that if they could do it, we could do it."

Special Teams MVP: Ben Turk Employed too often early in the contest, the four-year starter and graduating senior booted five punts for 214 yards with a 42.8 yard average, dropping one ball inside the Alabama 20-yard line, producing one in excess of 50 yards, and forcing four fair catches among his five kicks.

The Numbers Game (The Carnage in Print)

- The Irish defense allowed the following touchdown totals during the 2012 regular season: 1, 2, 0, 0, 0, 0, 2, 1, 2, 0, 0, and 1. It surrendered six Monday night. Notre Dame's defense had yielded two touchdowns or fewer in 24 of its previous 29 contests….

- Alabama notched scoring drives of 83, 80, 97, and 86 yards Monday night. Previously, one three opposing drives of 75 or more yards had resulted in scores vs. Bob Diaco's defense. USC's offense produced scoring drives of 75 and 80 yards vs. the Irish in the regular season finale while Navy marched 75 yards on the opening possession of the second half in the season opener.

- Notre Dame's defense entered the contest with opponents taking control of the football at least 60 yards away from pay dirt on 113 possessions this season with just two resulting in touchdowns. There were six such scoring drives tonight.

- The Irish finished the regular season allowing just nine points through 12 first quarters. Only Miami, Oklahoma and Pittsburgh managed points -- each a single field goal. Alabama scored 14 and added another seven on the first play of the second quarter.

- Notre Dame held nine of its 12 opponents to 300 total yards or less. Alabama hammered away for 309 in the contest's first half with a whopping 529 by the final gun.

- Over its previous 25 games, the Irish defense had yielded a total of 33 third quarter points. Alabama added 14 more to that total.

- Alabama's 42 points scored represent exactly one-fourth of the total scored vs. Notre Dame in 2012...

- The Irish fell to 1-10 during the Kelly era when their opponent scores more than 21 points in regulation. Notre Dame fell to 12-11 when attempting more than 30 passes in the 39-game Kelly era...

- Quarterback Everett Golson fell short in his bid to tie Bob Williams (1949-50) for most consecutive starts won to begin his career. Golson is now 10-1 as the starting quarterback at Notre Dame.

- Zeke Motta's 16 tackles were the most by an Irish player since Manti Te'o totaled 21 vs. Stanford in September 2010…

- Notre Dame's 32 rushing yards are a Kelly-era low; their 19 attempts the second fewest of his 39-game tenure;. The rush defense's 265 allowed is the most by the Irish vs. a non-option team in the Kelly era…

Notre Dame's defense had allowed just two runners to gain 100 or more yards in 2012. Both Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon topped the century mark for the Tide last night.

- The Crimson Tide held a 12:08 to 2:52 time of possession battle in the opening quarter, finishing ahead 38:13-21:47 for the game…

- The Tide converted 8 of 13 third-down chances including its first six…

- Alabama reached Notre Dame's end zone five times and produced five touchdowns. The Irish entered the contest as the nation's best red zone defense in terms of touchdown percentage, yielding just eight times in 33 opposing forays...

- Alabama's 529 yards total yards was the most produced vs. Bob Diaco's defense since Air Force compiled 565 empty yards in October 2011...

- Entering the contest, Notre Dame had not surrendered a touchdown scored outside its red zone since the opening drive of the second half vs. Navy in Dublin, a span of 638 snaps. Alabama nearly produced three such scores, with a 20-yard run by Eddie Lacy and a pair of touchdown receptions from Amari Cooper (34 and 19 yards, respectively). The three scores mark the first, third, and fourth-longest allowed by the Irish defense in 2012. Cooper's 34-yard score was the first by an opponent in 678 snaps outside the Irish red zone…

- Alabama is now 50-0 in the five-season Nick Saban era when rushing for more than 150 yards in a contest…

- Monday night marked Notre Dame's first-ever loss as the nation's No. 1 team on a neutral field (8-1)…

- Notre Dame failed to finish 13-0 for the first time in school history. It's 12-1 mark was matched just once, by Lou Holtz's 1989, No. 2 ranked Irish.