Like last year's suffocating, shutout win over LSU, Alabama made claiming a national championship look so easy that Notre Dame – a blue-chip outfit that finished the regular season with a 12-0 record, the No. 1 scoring defense in the nation and a No. 1 ranking in every major poll – look like it didn't even belong on the same field. Against a defense that had yielded nine touchdowns all season, the Crimson Tide scored six, all on drives covering more than 60 yards. Four seconds into the second quarter, Bama had more touchdowns (three) and more points (21) on its first three offensive possessions than the Irish had allowed in any game. At the same juncture, Notre Dame's offense had one first down and had not crossed midfield.
Against a team that often thrived on time of possession, Alabama held the ball for more than 38 minutes. Against a front seven that allowed two 100-yard rushers in twelve games, Alabama produced two 100-yard rushers in a little over three quarters. Against a secondary that allowed eleven passes of 25 yards or longer, fewest in the nation, Alabama completed five. Against an offense that averaged 202 yards per game rushing, Alabama allowed thirty-two. Opposite a defensive front touted as a match for its own, Alabama's offensive line owned the line of scrimmage and rendered the most decorated player on the field, Manti Te'o, utterly irrelevant. On the bright side, the Irish's freshman quarterback, Everett Golson, did not embarrass himself in a flurry of turnovers. End bright side.
When they're at their best, as they were on Monday, watching the Crimson Tide under Nick Saban can seem about as much fun as lining up against them. Alabama is such an efficient, well-oiled machine, it's only interesting on the rare occasions when someone like Johnny Manziel manages to glitch the system. But for Saban, a restless perfectionist who preaches means over ends so relentlessly that his philosophy of emphasizing "process" rather than results has become as iconic as Bear Bryant's houndstooth cap, there can be no greater compliment. His assembly line, more than any other would-be "dynasty" in the BCS era, is built to last.