MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Alabama didn’t have much trouble slicing up the Irish defense on the opening drive. The Crimson Tide went 82 yards in five plays, including 20 by penalty, on their opening TD drive. That was the longest scoring drive allowed by the Irish this season. The previous long was 75 yards.
Notre Dame blanked 9 of 12 opponents in the first quarter but Eddie Lacy’s 20-yard run was the first touchdown allowed by the Irish in the first quarter this season.
The second drive wasn’t much better for the Irish after Alabama got a break when Christion Jones fumbled a punt but the Irish were flagged for fair catch interference. Instead of Notre Dame recovering the fumble, the Alabama retained possession and drove 61 yards in 10 plays to take a 14-0 lead. The 14-point deficit was the second biggest the Irish faced all season. Pitt led 23-6 on Nov. 3.
That biggest deficit mark was quickly eclipsed on Alabama’s third touchdown drive, putting the Irish in a 21-0 hole.
The Fighting Irish now have played 79 games with the No. 1 ranking, and have a 63-13-3 record. Before assuming the No. 1 ranking and beating USC on Nov. 24, Notre Dame had not played a game as the top-ranked team since losing 41-39 at home to Boston College on Nov. 20, 1992.
The BCS Championship was the first time Notre Dame was ranked No. 1 and played Alabama. The only other time the Fighting Irish played an SEC team with the top ranking was at No. 9 Tennessee in 1990. The Irish beat the Vols 34-29.
In 1973, Notre Dame was ranked No. 3 when it beat No. 1 Alabama 24-23 in the Sugar Bowl.
After falling behind 35-0, Notre Dame finally gave its fans something to cheer about late in the third quarter when QB Everett Golson slithered into the end zone on a 2-yard run to cap an 85-yard drive. The touchdown ended a scoreless streak of 108 minutes, 7 seconds by the Crimson Tide in BCS Championship Games.
Despite its tradition, Notre Dame has been only mediocre in bowl games, and not very good lately. Notre Dame is now 15-17 all-time in bowl appearances. Recently, Notre Dame had lost 10 of its previous 12 bowl games, including twice to LSU. Notre Dame had a modest two-game bowl win streak snapped in 2011 by Florida State. The only two wins in the streak dating back to the 1994 Fiesta Bowl were against Hawaii (49-21) in the 2008 Hawaii Bowl and in 2010 against Miami (33-17) in the Sun Bowl.
With the BCS loss, Notre Dame now has lost two straight bowls.
Notre Dame sustained a big loss to its defense in the closing minutes of the first half when defensive end Kapro Lewis-Moore went down with an apparent right knee injury on a pass play. Lewis-Moore was helped off the field but he wasn’t putting much weight on it. Lewis-Moore had 8.5 tackles for loss and six sacks this season, third most on the Irish.
Notre Dame lost nose guard Louis Nix III early in the third quarter with another apparent knee injury while chasing Lacy. Trainers were working on his right knee after he walked gingerly off the field. He returned several plays later.