2012 was considered a rebuilding year at Notre Dame in part due to a bear of a schedule, one that featured five opponents (Michigan State, Michigan, Stanford, Oklahoma and USC) that landed in the preseason polls after winning at least 10 games in 2011. But there was also the matter of the gaping void under center, where the Irish were turning to a redshirt freshman, Everett Golson, with a resumé consisting entirely of a solid afternoonin the spring game. Now, Golson is about to become the first freshman quarterback to lead a team into a BCS title game since Virginia Tech's Michael Vick in the 2000 Sugar Bowl, and will be seeking to become the first freshman starter to claim a national title since Oklahoma's Jamelle Holieway in the 1986 Orange Bowl – nearly seven years to the day before Golson was born.
Since Vick, 22 of the 24 starting quarterbacks in the title game have been juniors or seniors, the only two exceptions being a) Oregon's Derron Thomas in 2010, and b) Alabama's current quarterback, A.J. McCarron, in last year's game, both of whom were in their third year in their respective programs as redshirt sophomores. Although he has often played like a veteran – most notably in Notre Dame's most impressive win, a 30-13 upset at Oklahoma in late October – by any championship standard Golson could not be greener.