First I have to be clear on this. I started cheering against Notre Dame about the same time I started cheering for Alabama (in other words understood football). Notre Dame was having their good years under Holtz, and if being an Alabama fan wasn't enough, being a protestant was. I literally had comic books that warned me about Catholics. I don't give Notre Dame credit because I want to, I do it because it's true. Secondly, I was a strong advocate for Texas A&M joining the conference, I don't criticize them because I have anything against them.
I am tired of people acting like Oregon and Chip Kelly are some magical team. I saw a breakdown trying to explain why Chip Kelly was a better coach than Nick Saban. It had something to do with talent and completely ignored the fact that Kelly recruits to his system. Chip Kelly was handed the reigns to a 10 win team, and has the backing/funding of Nike. He's not forced to rub sticks together to make fire, and what he's done pales in comparison to Nick Saban. He is a good coach, but like Boise St., he relies on gimmicks and exploits to produce his results.
Oregon was talked up to play LSU again last year for the title. The desire was so strong, that people wanted to forget that LSU dominated Oregon, unlike the Alabama game which came down to the wire. But, Oregon tripped up again as usual and that was that. This year, Oregon was in the drivers seat, and had an easy schedule to boot. And they lose yet again.
What irritates me about this is that somehow, because they won their bowl game, Oregon is the second best team in the country to many. They're as good as Notre Dame, in fact, they are better. How so? These teams shared two mutual opponents. Oregon gave up 51 points to USC, 51 points!, but how about Stanford? It wasn't just that Notre Dame beat Stanford, it was that Stanford not only beat Oregon but held this supposedly unstoppable offense to 14 points.
That's the thing with these gimmick offenses. If they don't catch you off-guard, what you have is a bad offense in fast forward. That's why Oregon could be held to 14 points, because if you're prepared for it, it's very beatable. To give an example, Alabama gave up the most points of the season in 2011 to Georgia Southern, a FCS team. Does that mean that Georgia Southern had the best offense that Alabama faced? No, it did not, it merely meant that they had a gimmick offense that Alabama wasn't prepared for. It created a match-up problem, and the fact that they were mauled by North Dakota State 35-7 is proof enough that their offense could be stopped.
We give gimmick offenses far too much credit because we are in love with scoring. Texas A&M, while a very good team has been given far too much credit as well. They got beat early by Florida, ok let's give them a mulligan. But, the LSU game was their 7th of the season, and it was at home. LSU was familiar with that sort of offense, and shut them down, holding them to 19 points. You can call one game or the other a fluke, but I don't think so. I think that if you have this sort of offense figured out, you can stop them cold. How else can you explain the fact that Texas A&M and Oregon both had lower scoring games than Alabama?
It doesn't end with offense though. There is defense to. This is interesting when looking at Texas A&M because ironically they didn't do so well against a similar offense. They let Louisiana Tech score 57 points. Oregon didn't do much better, giving up 51 points to USC. Alabama gave up 29 points against Texas A&M, the most points they gave up all year. But, even then 20 of those points were in the first quarter. Once Alabama adjusted to A&M's offense, the last three quarters were 24-9, in favor of Alabama. Texas A&M is a very good team, but I don't think they will catch Alabama off guard next time they play. Notre Dame's defense? Before they ran into Alabama, the most points they had given up were 26 points. Clearly, their defense is in another class when compared to Oregon and Texas A&M.
This talk about Oregon being so great, or A&M being so great is ultimately disrespectful to both Alabama and Notre Dame. Notre Dame was undefeated, they beat two conference champs, they played a great schedule (21 SoS), and fared far better than I thought they would. Texas A&M? They had a very hard schedule, and they did great. But, they lost twice. Their offense was held under 20 points twice and they came two yards away from losing a third time. They are still a very beatable team. Oregon, had a strength of schedule of 38. They didn't have many tests, and they still failed. Their offense can be stopped, they just don't play very many good defenses.
It's almost like people forgot about what Alabama did to LSU last year in the championship game. They took an undefeated team, a team that looked fantastic, beat Oregon, Georgia, Alabama, etc... and made them look pathetic. 21-0, it was like their offense didn't show up, and this was a LSU team that had a very impressive body of work. Why is it that when Alabama shows up like that again, and dominated Notre Dame, it becomes something other than giving Alabama credit? If it was Oregon it would have been different, Notre Dame's really not that good, etc... You know what? LSU was that good. Notre Dame was that good. But, Alabama was that great.