BCS title game pick: Why Alabama will win -- late and close

Alabama. Again.

Wash, rinse, repeat as national champions.

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This is not hard -- shouldn’t be that hard. Bama is going to beat Notre Dame to win its zillionth national championship. Then we wait for the Crimson Tide to be installed as a touchdown favorite over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Isn’t that what this about? The competition is thinning out for Alabama. The school has won nine national titles in the wire service era. Three of them will have come in the last four years if Bama seals the deal against Notre Dame.

But in a way, the Tide are competing against themselves, their legacy, more than Notre Dame.

That’s why this is going to be close. Like three points close. Like 16-13, Alabama. Nothing wrong with that. A win is a win, but the Tide have to understand what they’re getting into. Quicksand. It’s where Notre Dame likes to play.

We call them "grinders" -- slow, stupefying, punt fests. Your average SEC game on valium. If Bama thinks it is ready for that pace, it must think again. Notre Dame has beaten Michigan 13-6 in a game filled with seven interceptions, two fumbles and five punts. It held Oklahoma to 13 points -- in Norman. It survived goal-line stands against Stanford and USC.

These Irish don’t do blowouts. They thrive in these types of games. That’s why Bama has to be careful. It has to stay out of the quicksand. The Tide aren’t going to score 30, maybe not even 20 on Monday night. But they are going to win -- close and late.

The key element in this game is Notre Dame’s stout defensive line holding up against Alabama’s offense. The Irish’s front seven -- populated with three 300-pounders up front -- may be the best unit on the field. They will hold Notre Dame in the game to the fourth quarter.

That’s where the best running back tandem in the country takes hold (T.J. Yeldon, Eddie Lacy). I saw it throughout the season. I saw it against Georgia in the SEC title game. This game is about hit and submit.

Notre Dame will. Call it a field goal late. Bama, 16-13.

Wash, rinse, repeat as champions.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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