Talk all you want about the SEC's streak of national titles, and there's an element of that here. Talk about the way that the conference is just one win away from closing out the BCS era of college football with a run of dominance unparalleled in college football history, if you must. But don't forget to talk about Alabama and Nick Saban.
Because while Monday night's 42-14 waxing of Notre Dame might have been the seventh national title in a row for the SEC, the more impressive feat might have been the Crimson Tide becoming the first repeat champion of the BCS era. And while Alabama has long been known as one of the best programs in college football, it has actually never seen a stretch of excellence quite like this, never seen three national championship trophies go to Tuscaloosa in a four-year period.
Call it a dynasty and start to mention Nick Saban's name in the same sentence with Bear Bryant's -- because there is now literally no reason not to. The Process has been mocked and applauded and written about ad nauseam, but the approach that Saban preaches -- that of focusing on the details, focusing on the details and then focusing on the details some more -- works. There are three Waterford footballs in a trophy case in Tuscaloosa to prove it.
In some ways, the final win was vintage Nick Saban football. The Notre Dame run game was entirely shut down, averaging 1.7 yards per carry to generate just 32 yards on the game. The weak link in the Crimson Tide's defense did give up some yardage -- Everett Golson was 21-of-36 for 270 yards, a touchdown and an interception -- but much of that was after the game was well in hand.
The Alabama offense performed perhaps a little better than what we've come to expect from the Tide. Alabama churned out 529 yards with a performance that was dominant on the ground and through the air. A.J. McCarron had one of the better games of his career, going 20-of-28 for 264 yards and four touchdowns. Amari Cooper, one of the more dynamic young players on this team, caught six of those passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon each pitched in more than 100 yards, with Lacy carrying the ball 20 times for 140 yards and a touchdown and Yeldon getting 108 yards and a score on 21 rushes.
It might be too early yet to crown Alabama the presumptive front-runners for the 2013 season. There are several months to go, there are still some draft declarations to be made and there are a number of seniors that the Tide will have to replace. Go ahead and mark the Nick Saban to the NFL rumors off the list of things to worry about -- he doesn't appear to be a man who's headed anywhere any time soon -- but he'll have plenty of work to do when he gets around to working on next year's team. Which, according to him, will be in about 48 hours.
But don't bet against Alabama or Nick Saban. Because as much as the game Monday night was the end of the 2012 college football season, it still felt a little bit like a beginning for the Crimson Tide. The SEC's BCS streak will end one way or another next year, but Nick Saban's Process looks like it's far from complete.