Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron (right) celebrates with wide receiver… (Mike Segar/Reuters )
The luck of the Fighting Irish held up through a tense 2012 regular season. Starting the year unranked. Quarterback uncertainty. An unbelievable win in triple overtime over Pittsburgh. It feels like Notre Dame is a team of destiny. All it had to do was beat Alabama—a heavy favorite among Vegas oddsmakers—in Monday's BCS National Championship game to make believers out of everyone. So we looked for signs that pointed to a blessed team—or one busted as a pretender.
Blessed: Jon Bon Jovi is spotted in Notre Dame gear and shaking hands with Irish coach Brian Kelly. Must … avoid … "Living on a Prayer" … joke …
Busted: ESPN analyst Lee Corso, who dresses in the garb of the team he picks to win, comes out dressed as the Irish mascot. It has to be a bad sign simply because he looks so preposterous.
Blessed: Notre Dame wins the coin toss and elects to defer. They're already getting lucky.
Busted: Irish linebacker Dan Fox rips off Crimson Tide running back Eddie Lacy's helmet while tackling him, drawing a personal foul penalty. And before the next play, the Irish are flagged for offsides.
Busted: Lacy bursts through the line for a 20-yard touchdown run. And he barely breaks a sweat.
Busted: The Alabama punt returner fumbles after being hit by HIS OWN PLAYER and the Irish recover, but the refs say it's a penalty on Notre Dame. Turns out it was the right call. But it's not really FAIR.
Busted: Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron finds a wide-open Michael Williams in the end zone. This might be over by halftime.
Blessed: Crimson Tide center Barrett Jones is shown being treated for an injured hand. The Irish will take any edge they can get.
Blessed: What was first ruled a fumble by Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert is overturned, and the Irish keep the ball. Disaster temporarily averted.
SCORE: Alabama 14, Notre Dame 0
Busted: Alabama's T.J. Yeldon practically bulldozes his way into the end zone for a TD on the first play of the second quarter. Anytime Notre Dame wants to show up, their fans would love it.
Blessed: ESPN announcers Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit are trying to make a case for an Irish comeback. Don't tune out just yet …
Busted: Notre Dame is stopped on a fourth-and-5 play. Could be a (really, really) long night.
Blessed: The Irish finally force an Alabama punt. They then fumble the return, but luckily they knock it out of bounds before the Tide can recover!
Busted: Davonte Neal fields a punt cleanly for Notre Dame, but is tackled inside his team's own 5-yard line. It's such a poor decision, clearly witchcraft is involved.
Busted: One of Notre Dame's defensive captains, Kapron Lewis-Moore, has to be helped off the field with a knee injury. Whoah boy.
Busted: Lacy tornadoes his way into the end zone for another Alabama touchdown. That can't be the fat lady warming up, can it?
SCORE: Alabama 28, Notre Dame 0
Blessed: Entering the third quarter, the Irish have had the ball for just 10:14 out of a possible 30 minutes. Of course, that just means the offense is extremely well-rested.
Blessed: The Notre Dame marching band plays the “Back to the Future” theme at halftime. Gotta wake up the echoes any way you can.
Busted: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (yes, that’s his real name) makes a spectacular interception for Alabama just as Notre Dame is driving. Well, at least the Tide are backed up inside their own 10-yard line now.
Busted: There’s no one in the same ZIP code as Amari Cooper as he catches a 34-yard touchdown pass for the Tide. Wipeout.
Blessed: Musburger is talking up the Notre Dame recruiting class, trying to paint a picture of a brighter future. At least someone is.
Blessed: Everett Golson finds the end zone for the Irish’s first points. A storybook comeback’s gotta start somewhere.
SCORE: Alabama 35, Notre Dame 7
Busted: Cooper scores another touchdown for the Tide, capping off an 86-yard drive. Can’t believe they’re not bored yet.
Blessed: Theo Riddick catches a TD pass from Golson. The Irish are back within 28 points!
Blessed: With seven minutes left, the Alabama center shoves McCarron after a verbal tiff over audibles. Are the Tide falling apart?
Busted: Well, mercifully, this beatdown had to end sometime. Maybe there will be free peanuts on the plane.
SCORE: Alabama 42, Notre Dame 14
At halftime, Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly joked that "Maybe Alabama doesn't come back in the second half." Good to see he hasn't lost his sense of humor. Unfortunately for him and the rest of Notre Dame Nation, they're gonna need a little levity.
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