Notre Dame's shot against Bama
How Notre Dame could approach Alabama; plus, a look at rising prospects
For the final edition of "First Round" for the 2012 college football season, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay look at the BCS championship game matchup and the NFL prospects who have improved their stocks the most this season.
The discussion: What are your expectations for the BCS title game matchup between Alabama and Notre Dame?
Todd McShay: The thing I'm most looking forward to seeing is what Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly does with all this time in the lead-up to the game on Jan. 7. There's a saying that comes up all the time in sports, that teams need to "dance with the one that brung ya." Well, if Notre Dame adheres to this logic, the Irish will stick to the formula that worked for them all season long: winning with defense and begging their young QB, redshirt freshman Everett Golson, to protect the ball.
But remember, Kelly has a stretch-it-out, pass-happy background. The Irish's run-pass breakdown this season was 487 rushing attempts to 352 passes, but in Kelly's last season with Cincinnati, the Bearcats threw it 472 times compared with only 361 runs.
So the temptation might be there to use the month-plus of preparation time to open up this offense and put a much greater emphasis on their young QB's shoulders. Would they be outsmarting themselves? Maybe, and Oregon's Chip Kelly might warn against it (Oregon used a lot of new looks in its BCS title matchup with Auburn in 2011, especially early in the game, and did not have its usual tempo). But Notre Dame has the weapons to have success in the title game by opening things up -- and more important, Alabama has shown enough vulnerability on defense for the Irish to have success by doing so.
For Mel and Todd's early look at the BCS title game, and their take on the NFL prospects whose stocks have risen the most this season, become an ESPN Insider.