Off the bat, we’ll pose this question because we ourselves can’t seem to figure out: Where’s the love for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish?
Fresh off stamping its ticket to the BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on January 7, 2013, the number 1 ranked Fighting Irish should be considered as the favorites to win the title, right? Not really, according to oddsmakers.
See, the Irish are facing the number 2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, the team many, including the books, believe is the best in all of college football. The latter handled their business against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship game to secure the other seat in the BCS title game, thus assuring everyone the match-up a lot of people have been expecting in the past month.
So why are the Fighting Irish, despite being the number 1 ranked team in the country, as high as 10-point underdogs against the Roll Tide?
Chalk it up to hype, respect, and a belief that Notre Dame isn’t as good as their record – and rankings – suggest.
The common perception is that Alabama is just, cut and dry, the better team. They’ve got a highly touted defense that absolutely laid waste to the competition until getting soundly beat by the Johnny Football-led Texas A&M Aggies at ‘Bama’s own stomping grounds in Tuscaloosa. But even that hiccup didn’t deter oddsmakers from making the Crimson Tide the favorites heading into its title game against Notre Dame.
Against the Irish, Alabama will have to rely on a defense that has looked downright beatable in the latter part of the year. Remember when the Tide were rolling to video game beat-downs in the first eight games of the season? Figment of the imagination now, especially after they gave up 28 points and 394 yards to Georgia in the SEC title game. And they’re 10-point favorites against a team with a pretty impressive defense of its own led by Heisman nominee Manti Te’O?
In a nutshell, this game will be all about defense. The Tide have some pretty good offensive players on their side, led by their own tailback duo Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon and QB AJ McCarron. Alabama has the pedigree and experience on their side, but do not sleep on the Irish because they could as easily win this game outright, let alone cover the spread. 10 points is one too many, especially in a game that could go down the wire.
However the line shifts moving forward in the next four weeks, you can be sure that this game featuring two of college football’s royalty will not only generate a record TV audience, it could potentially become, according to veteran Vegas bookmaker Jimmy Vaccaro, “the single biggest handle on any college football game ever booked.”