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January 6, 2013

Alabama, Notre Dame season recaps

TideSports.com's Tommy Deas and the South Bend Tribune's Bob Wieneke recap the roads that brought Alabama and Notre Dame to the BCS National Championship Game in Miami.

Alabama 2012 Season
Capsules by Tommy Deas
Alabama 41, Michigan 14
When: Sept. 1
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Recap: Alabama got its season rolling with a one-sided victory in the Cowboys Classic, jumping out to a 31-0 lead and coasting from there. AJ McCarron threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns, and freshman T.J. Yeldon made his debut at running back with an 111-yard performance that included a touchdown run. The Crimson Tide defense got in on the act, with C.J. Mosley returning an interception for a score and Dee Milliner setting up another touchdown with an interception return.
Key Stat: Alabama was 4 for 4 in the red zone, scoring three touchdowns and kicking one field goal. The Crimson Tide made the most of its scoring opportunities, getting touchdown runs of 9 yards from Eddie Lacy and 1 yard from Yeldon to go with a 2-yard McCarron-to-Michael Williams pass and a 22-yard Jeremy Shelley field goal.
Quotable: "I personally don't think we were trying to send any type of message. We're just trying to do what Coach (Saban) preaches, and that's to go out and play our game." - McCarron

Alabama routs Michigan | Hurt |Photos

Alabama 35, Western Kentucky 0
When: Sept. 8
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa
Recap: Alabama created four turnovers and got two short-field touchdown drives in a shutout victory. McCarron completed 14 of 19 passes for 219 yards, throwing four touchdown passes. Kevin Norwood caught scoring passes of 33 and 12 yards following turnovers produced by the UA defense and Christion Jones caught touchdown passes of 14 and 22 yards. Alabama was held to 103 rushing yards, with Lacy gaining 36 yards on nine carries to lead the way. Running back Jalston Fowler sustained a season-ending knee injury, the first of several major injuries that would hamper UA over the course of the season.
Key Stat: Western Kentucky produced six sacks for 48 yards in losses, exploiting some seams in UA's pass protection with a blitz-heavy scheme.
Quotable: "Our goal is to create three turnovers, and once we hit our goal we just want to keep making it easy on the offense and ourselves to change the momentum." - linebacker Nico Johnson

Tide shuts out WKU | Hurt | Photos

Alabama 52, Arkansas 0
When: Sept. 15
Where: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Ark.
Recap: Alabama completely devastated an Arkansas team that was reeling from an upset loss to Louisana-Monroe a week earlier and without quarterback Tyler Wilson, out with a concussion. The Crimson Tide forced five turnovers and Lacy rushed for 55 yards and three touchdowns. Yeldon added 55 rushing yards and another score and Kenyan Drake ran for 57 yards in relief. McCarron passed for 189 yards and a touchdown.
Key Stat: Alabama held Arkansas to just 137 total yards and 1.6 yards per carry. It would have been worse had the Razorbacks not completed a pair of 19-yard passes.
Quotable: "We told our players that their quarterback situation was not our problem, it was theirs." - Alabama coach Nick Saban

Tide thumps Arkansas | Hurt | Photos

Alabama 40, Florida Atlantic 7
When: Sept. 22
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa
Recap: Alabama scored on its first six possessions - three touchdowns and three field goals - to race out to a 30-0 lead by halftime. McCarron completed 15 of 25 attempts for 212 yards and three touchdowns, hitting Kenny Bell for an 85-yard score, DeAndrew White for a 4-yard touchdown and Jones for a 4-yard score. Lacy ran for 106 yards, topping the 100-yard mark by halftime to lead a 256-yard ground attack.
Key Stat: UA held the Owls to just 23 yards on 21 plays in the first half. Florida Atlantic did not get a first down until 4:37 remained in the first half.
Quotable: "We certainly stalled out today. How many times did we kick fields goal today? Four?" - Saban on UA's execution in the red zone

Depth shows in rout | Hurt | Photos

Alabama 33, Ole Miss 14
When: Sept. 29
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa
Recap: The scrappy Rebels came to play and took it to Alabama, but McCarron connected twice with Amari Cooper on touchdown passes, Shelley connected on four field goals and Jones returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score. Cooper caught eight passes for 84 yards and Lacy ran for 82 yards. Ole Miss got as close as 27-14 in the third quarter on Randall Mackey's 12-yard touchdown run, but Alabama's defense clamped down after that. Mosley made 10 tackles and Alabama intercepted three passes. Both wideout White and reserve running back Dee Hart suffered season-ending knee injuries against the Rebels.
Key Stat: Alabama wasn't able to sustain its running game, gaining just 125 yards on 34 carries for a 3.7-yard average.
Quotable: "We finished those drives when we got those interceptions, so that was a good thing." - Saban on cashing in after turnovers

Alabama handles Rebels | Hurt | Photos

Alabama 42, Missouri 10
When: Oct. 13
Where: Memorial Stadium, Columbia, Mo.
Recap: Alabama jumped out to a 28-0 lead by midway through the second quarter of this lightning-delayed game that was played mostly in a downpour. Lacy set the tone with a 73-yard touchdown run on the game's second play and finished with a career-best 177 rushing yards to go with three touchdowns. Yeldon piled on 144 more yards and scored twice. Missouri's touchdown came on a kickoff return, with the Tigers held to 129 yards in total offense and just three rushing yards.
Key Stat: UA controlled the clock, holding the ball for 36:29 to Missouri's 23:31. Alabama kept possession for more than 11 minutes in the fourth quarter.
Quotable: "That's what it's all about, getting down and dirty." - linebacker Mosley on playing through the storm

Bama crushes Mizzou | Hurt | Photos

Alabama 44, Tennessee 13
When: Oct. 20
Where: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn.
Recap: McCarron put on an aerial show, passing for a then-career-best 306 yards and four touchdowns as Alabama put away its rival. Cooper caught seven passes for 162 yards, including touchdowns of 23 and 42 yards, and McCarron also hit tight end Williams for a 1-yard score and Bell for a 39-yard touchdown. Alabama also moved the ball on the ground, with Yeldon gaining 129 yards and rushing for two touchdowns and Lacy running for 79 yards. Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray went 13 for 27 for 184 yards with two interceptions in a tough outing against UA's defense.
Key Stat: Alabama's defense was able to get off the field, holding Tennessee to 2 of 13 on third-down conversions. The Volunteers were also unsuccessful on two fourth-down tries.
Quotable: "One of our goals is to come into a game and rattle the quarterback." - Alabama linebacker Johnson

McCarron, Cooper have big nights | Hurt | Photos

Alabama 38, Mississippi State 7
When: Oct. 27 Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa Recap: A Mississippi State team that came into the contest with an undefeated record was exposed as Alabama held the Bulldogs to just 47 rushing yards and harassed MSU's Tyler Russell with 10 quarterback hurries while breaking up five passes and intercepting another. The Crimson Tide averaged 6.5 yards per play in rolling up more than 400 yards in total offense, with McCarron passing for 208 yards and two touchdowns and Yeldon running for 84 yards and a touchdown. Key stat: McCarron ran his school-record streak of passes without an interception to 262, dating to the Mississippi State game in 2011. Quotable: "There were a lot of plays there to be made on the field and we didn't make them." - MSU coach Dan Mullen

Tide muzzles MSU | Hurt | Photos

Alabama 21, LSU 17
When: Nov. 3
Where: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, La.
Recap: McCarron led a five-play, 72-yard drive that culminated in a 28-yard screen pass to Yeldon for the game-winning touchdown with 51 seconds to go as Alabama came from behind. The Crimson Tide led 14-3 at halftime and seemed to have things well in hand before LSU took control with two long drives in the second half to take the lead. Norwood caught three passes on the game-winning drive and finished with five catches for 62 yards. Lacy ran for 83 yards and a touchdown.
Key Stat: UA struggled on third down on both sides of the ball, converting just 1 of 9 situations on offense while LSU converted 10 of 20. The Tigers held onto the ball for almost 40 minutes.
Quotable: "Things went bad. The momentum changed. But they kept their poise, kept playing, kept competing." - Saban

Alabama survives Death Valley | Hurt | Photos

Texas A&M 29, Alabama 24
When: Nov. 10
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa
Recap: Johnny Manziel, better known as Johnny Football, accounted for 345 combined passing and rushing yards and powered the Aggies to a 20-0 first-quarter lead that proved too much for Alabama to overcome. The Crimson Tide blew two fourth-quarter opportunities when Yeldon lost a fumble and McCarron threw an interception on fourth-and-goal. McCarron passed for 309 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted twice. Lacy and Yeldon had touchdown runs, with Lacy rushing for 92 yards, and Cooper caught six passes for 136 yards.
Key Stat: Ryan Swope caught 11 passes for 111 yards and a score. As difficult as Manziel was for Alabama to contain, Swope was responsible for many key catches to keep the Aggies' offense moving.
Quotable: "No moment is too big for him." - Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin on Manziel

Aggies fast start too much | Hurt | Photos

Alabama 49, Western Carolina 0
When: Nov. 17
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa
Recap: No team ever had an easier bounce-back game than Alabama did against the lower-division Catamounts. Lacy rushed for three first-half touchdowns as the Crimson Tide raced to a 42-0 lead by halftime before emptying the bench. Lacy rushed for 99 yards, McCarron had an easy 6-for-6 day passing for 133 yards and a touchdown and backup quarterback Blake Sims gained 70 yards on eight carries. Western Carolina managed just 163 total yards, while Alabama rolled up 460.
Key Stat: No. 1 and No. 2. The two teams atop the rankings fell - No. 1 Kansas State to Baylor and No. 2 Oregon to Stanford - to put Alabama right back into the national championship picture.
Quotable: "Quack Quack Quack Quack CHOKE!!!" - guard Anthony Steen, on Twitter, after Oregon lost in overtime

Alabama crushes Catamounts | Hurt | Photos

Alabama 49, Auburn 0
When: Nov. 24
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa
Recap: Alabama dominated its cross-state rival without breaking a sweat to clinch the SEC Western Division title. UA's starting offense took the field seven times and scored seven touchdowns, with McCarron passing for four scores, Lacy running for 131 yards and two touchdowns and Cooper hauling in two scoring passes among his five catches for 109 yards. The Alabama defense held Auburn to 163 yards, with backups playing most of the second half. Wideout Bell sustained a broken leg to end his season.
Key Stat: Of Auburn's 17 called pass plays, two ended in sacks, two in interceptions and eight fell incomplete.
Quotable: "I felt like I knew what they were going to do every play." - McCarron, on Auburn's defense

Alabama shuts out Tigers | Hurt | Photos

Alabama 32, Georgia 28
When: Dec. 1
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Recap: Alabama rallied from 11 points down in the second half behind a physical running game that eventually overcame the third-ranked Bulldogs to win the Southeastern Conference Championship Game. Georgia took a 21-10 lead with just over six minutes to go in the third quarter on Alec Ogletree's 55-yard return of a blocked field goal, but No. 2 Alabama responded by gaining 121 rushing yards on 12 plays with just one pass attempt over its next two drives to cut Georgia's lead to three points. The teams battled to the wire, with McCarron hitting Cooper for a 45-yard touchdown pass that proved to be the game-winner with 3:15 to go. The Bulldogs drove all the way to the UA 5-yard line as the clock expired on a thriller.
Key stat: Lacy, the game's MVP, ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 9.1 yards per carry. Freshman Cooper caught eight passes for 128 yards.
Quotable: "It about broke me, it felt like. I couldn't breathe at one point, but we knew we weren't going to give up." - guard Anthony Steen, on Alabama's offensive line taking over in the second half

Tide downs Georgia | Hurt | Photos

Notre Dame 2012 Season
Capsules By Bob Wieneke, South Bend Tribune
Notre Dame 50, Navy 10
When: Sept. 1
Where: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Recap: Notre Dame played Navy in Dublin for the second time, and the result was the same as the first - a victory for the Fighting Irish. Everett Golson made his first career start, completing 12 of 18 passes for 144 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Six-foot-6, 303-pound defensive end Stephon Tuitt displayed his athleticism by scooping up a fumble and sprinting 77 yards for a touchdown.
Key stat: Navy is traditionally one of the best rushing teams in the country, but Notre Dame outgained the Midshipmen on the ground 293-149. Running backs Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III each ran for two TDs, and wide receiver Robby Toma also got in the act with a 9-yard rushing touchdown. Quotable: "The story for me is the ability to control both lines, offensively and defensively. " - Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly
Notre Dame 20, Purdue 17
When: Sept. 8
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
Recap: Backup quarterback Tommy Rees was greeted with boos when he entered the game for Notre Dame's final offensive possession, but Rees marched the Fighting Irish downfield to set up Kyle Brindza's 27-yard field goal with 7 seconds left. Rees was suspended for the opener after an offseason alcohol-related brush with police, but he was good enough on the final drive, going 3 for 6 for 35 yards, including a pair of third-down conversions.
Key stat: Notre Dame converted 11 of 19 on third down, which helped win the time-of-possession battle by a 34:14-25:46 margin. Quotable: "There is no quarterback controversy. Everett Golson is our starter." - Kelly
Notre Dame 20, Michigan State 3
When: Sept. 15
Where: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich.
Recap: Days after the deaths of his girlfriend and grandmother, Manti Te'o played one of his best games to date. He had 12 tackles and two pass breakups. Golson didn't have great statistics, but he had a hand in both of Notre Dame's touchdowns, throwing for one and running for the other.
Key stat: The Irish held Michigan State to 50 net yards on the ground. Standout running back Le'Veon Bell had 77 rushing yards, but four sacks by Notre Dame brought the Spartan rushing total down. Quotable: "I miss them both. But I know I'll see them both again someday." - Te'o
Notre Dame 13, Michigan 6
When: Sept. 22
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
Recap: Notre Dame students and fans wore leis to show support for Te'o, a native of Hawaii. The senior returned the love by recording two interceptions and eight tackles. A struggling Golson again was replaced by Rees, who completed 8 of 11 passes for 115 yards. Rees also ran for a touchdown on a quarterback draw.
Key stat: The Notre Dame defense forced six turnovers, and Denard Robinson, who had tormented the Irish the last two years, was the guilty party. Robinson threw four interceptions. Quotable: "We limited who we felt is one of the dynamic offensive players in the country to no touchdowns." - Kelly said of Robinson
Notre Dame 41, Miami 3
When: Oct. 6
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago
Recap: The game, part of Notre Dame's Shamrock Series in which it plays a home game at a neutral site, wasn't quite the edgy affair that many of the games between these two programs have been. Miami's Phillip Dorsett got behind the Fighting Irish secondary on the first play of the game and dropped a sure touchdown. It was the first of many Hurricane mistakes. Notre Dame, meanwhile, bludgeoned the Hurricanes as Golson played the most complete game of his young career. He completed 17 of 22 passes for 186 yards and added 51 yards on the ground. About the only hiccup was Golson missing the first series as punishment for violating team rules.
Key stat: Notre Dame owned a 39:08-20:52 advantage in time of possession, built on a running game that produced 376 yards. Tack that on to the nine Miami penalties and numerous mistakes, and you've got a blowout. Quotable: "We didn't play smart enough, we didn't play disciplined enough and we didn't make enough plays. It's that simple. Give Notre Dame a lot of credit." - Miami coach Al Golden
Notre Dame 20, Stanford 13 (OT)
When: Oct. 13
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
Recap: Trailing 20-13 in overtime, Stanford had a first-and-goal from the 4-yard line. Stepfan Taylor gained a yard on first down and 2 on second then got stood up for no gain on third. A dramatic stand on fourth down, which took some time to sort out because of replay, kept Notre Dame unbeaten. Golson again was replaced by Rees after getting hit in the head and suffering a concussion.
Key stat: Rees entered in the fourth quarter and completed all four of his passes, including the game-winning touchdown to TJ Jones in overtime. Quotable: "You knew they were coming to hit you in the mouth, and you've got to do your best to hit them back." Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix
Notre Dame 17, Brigham Young 14
When: Oct. 20
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
Recap: With Golson sidelined because of a concussion suffered in the Stanford game, Rees again stepped in. Rees was a pedestrian 7 of 16 passing with a touchdown and interception, but the ground game carried the load offensively. Riddick ran for 143 yards, including a 55-yard jaunt on fourth down on which he looked to be stopped before emerging from a pile. Te'o registered 10 tackles, and Tuitt had two sacks.
Key stat: Against one of the better run defenses in the country, Notre Dame accumulated 270 rushing yards. In addition to Riddick's big day, fellow senior Cierre Wood added 114 rushing yards. The Irish averaged 6.3 yards a carry against a unit that entered having allowed 2.2 per carry. Quotable: "There's not anybody on our schedule or in the country who we don't think we can run the ball against. I don't care if they were first (in rushing defense), we're going to run the ball. That's exactly what we did." - Wood
Notre Dame 30, Oklahoma 13
When: Oct. 27
Where: Memorial Stadium, Norman, Okla.
Recap: This was supposed to be the week that Notre Dame's magical run ended. After the Sooners tied the game with 9:10 remaining, Notre Dame responded with the game's final 17 points to prove it was a legitimate national title contender. Golson engineered what proved to be the winning drive that included a 50-yard pass to Chris Brown, the freshman's only catch of the season. Te'o sealed the game with an interception of Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones. Golson returned from the concussion and showed marked improvement.
Key stat: Notre Dame limited Oklahoma to a scant 15 yards rushing. Te'o led the way with two tackles for loss, but he wasn't alone as the group effort improved the Irish to 8-0. Quotable: "Notre Dame made the key plays down the stretch when they needed them." - Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops
Notre Dame 29, Pittsburgh 26 (3OT)
When: Nov. 3
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
Recap: It wasn't gorgeous, but Notre Dame remained in the title hunt with a survival of the Panthers. Golson threw for 227 yards, 105 coming in the fourth quarter and the overtimes. He was benched briefly but re-entered after Rees threw an interception. Golson led two fourth-quarter scoring drives sandwiched around a pick in the end zone with the Irish trailing by eight. His 5-yard TD pass to Riddick pulled the Fighting Irish within two, and his run for two points tied it. The redshirt freshman quarterback ultimately won it with a 1-yard run in the third extra session.
Key stat: Not quite a stat but a number, and that's 2. With Pitt kicker Kevin Harper lined up for a potential game-winning field goal in the second overtime, Notre Dame actually had two players on the field wearing No. 2. Harper missed the field goal, but Notre Dame should have been penalized for the duplicate numbers, which would have resulted in a first down. The Big East refs missed the call and Notre Dame escaped. Quotable: "Last year this would have been a loss." - Kelly
Notre Dame 21, Boston College 6
When: Nov. 10
Where: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Recap: The most stirring moment of the day might have come before kickoff when the door to the BCS championship opened when Alabama lost. Notre Dame went out and played a rather blah game against a fading opponent but still had enough to improve to 10-0. Riddick ran for 104 yards and Golson threw a pair of touchdown passes, and the Fighting Irish moved up in the next day's polls.
Key stat: The Fighting Irish converted on their first 10 third-down opportunities. After the 10th successful conversion, the press box announcer said said simply, "10 for 10." For the night, Notre Dame was 11 of 14 on third downs. Quotable: "We did a nice job on third down. I thought our quarterback play was really good. We were effective tonight because our quarterback play was effective tonight." - Kelly
Notre Dame 38, Wake Forest 0
When: Nov. 17
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
Recap: The most riveting part of the day was the recognition of the seniors during the pregame and their departures late in the game. In between, Notre Dame manhandled Wake Forest. Golson completed 20 of 30 passes for 346 yards and three TDs in less than three quarters of work. Wood ran for 150 yards and the defense limited the Demon Deacons to 209 yards of total offense.
Key stat: One, as in number. What was a sleepwalker of a game became part of one of the more memorable days in Notre Dame history as Kansas State and Oregon both lost that night, vaulting the Fighting Irish into the top spot in the BCS standings. Quotable: "The feeling is definitely different this year. We realize we have a lot to play for and a lot left in this season." - wide receiver John Goodman
Notre Dame 22, Southern California 13
When: Nov. 24
Where: Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles
Recap: Notre Dame secured a spot in the BCS championship with a win over its archrival. Brindza booted five field goals and the defense put a punctuation mark on the season with another stellar performance. With the game still in doubt and the Trojans at the doorstep late in the fourth quarter, the Fighting Irish held on fourth down to clinch the win. Robert Woods and Marqise Lee combined for 167 receiving yards, but the Trojan passing game wasn't as effective as it had been all season with starter Matt Barkley sidelined with an injury and redshirt freshman Max Wittek making his first career start. Wittek threw a pair of interceptions.
Key stat: Riddick, who came to Notre Dame as a running back, switched to wide receiver for two seasons before returning to running back, played his most complete game in a Fighting Irish uniform by rushing for 146 yards and catching three passes for 33 more. Quotable: "Ecstatic. That's the only word I can say right now." - Riddick


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