Eight years ago, on Jan. 7, in the culmination and championship game of the 2012 college football season, Notre Dame ran into the perfect storm.
The problem wasn’t just that Alabama played well in the 42-14 win. It’s that Notre Dame came to Miami to face a team that had been built to dominate against teams like Notre Dame.
When Nick Saban did his first building job at Alabama, he geared his recruiting to beat the teams that he would regard as his greatest completion, primarily Florida and LSU. These were powerful teams that could run the football and play defense and maul other teams in the trenches. Florida had a unique quarterback in Tim Tebow, but he wasn’t going to pass opponents silly. The real prototype, though, was LSU and the two games between the Crimson Tide and the Tigers in the 2011 season might never be matched in terms of sheer defensive talent on the field.
The 2012 Alabama-LSU game in Baton Rouge (the T.J. Yeldon screen pass game) was not for the faint-hearted either. A fair argument can be made that Alabama’s sole loss that season, with all due credit to the magical Johnny Manziel, was also a function of Texas A&M drawing the classic “trap game” slot.