I don't know about bend-don't-break as a good strategy since Bama's offense is patient and methodical. If we can get 2-3 yards per run and be in 3rd 4-5 we can move the chains on anybody. However, don't ever think we aren't content with field goals and relying on our defense if TD's are hard to come by, just look at our games with LSU.
On the other hand I think ND's secondary is just as weak, if not weaker, than everyone, including ND fans thought they would be pre-season. If Bama doesn't exploit that weakness early and often I'll be much surprised.
ND's run defense will be as good as advertised but we were able to run the ball effectively against LSU, who's defense I'd put ahead of ND's overall because of their secondary and depth. LSU also had a top tier LB corp and Minter of that group would be pretty close to Manti Te'o, just less media coverage.