MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — No. 2 Alabama was halfway to stamping itself a dynasty, scoring touchdowns on its first three drives and taking a 28-0 lead at halftime of a BCS championship game that wasn't living up to the hype Monday night.
In a matchup of programs tied for the most AP national championships with eight, Alabama was rolling toward becoming the first team to win consecutive BCS titles — and its third title in four seasons under coach Nick Saban.
The Crimson Tide (12-1) marched with ease on the opening drive, going 82 yards on five plays to take a 7-0 lead on Eddie Lacy's 20-yard touchdown run up the middle with 12:03 left in the first quarter.
Notre Dame (12-0) had allowed only two rushing touchdowns in its surprising run to the championship game. The Fighting Irish were the first team to reach the BCS championship game after starting the season unranked. They were trying to become the first team to go from unranked to national champion since BYU in 1984.
Alabama quickly made the Fighting Irish look as if they were in over their heads.
Notre Dame did nothing to respond to Alabama's opening march, and on its punt back, the Crimson Tide might have caught a break. Returner Christion Jones muffed the kick, but Notre Dame was flagged for interfering with the catch, though it was one of Jones' teammates that made contact with him.
Lacy and the Crimson Tide went right back to work, hammering away at Notre Dame's vaunted defense. The Irish struggled to bring down the 220-pound tailback, who even ran through Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te'o on a screen pass.
In the second quarter, it was freshman T.J. Yeldon slipping through Te'o's arms in the backfield on a third-down run and getting a first down.
Lacy set up Alabama's second touchdown with another 20-yard run, this time to the Irish 2. Instead of running into a Notre Dame goal-line defense that has become known for goal-line stands, AJ McCarron faked a handoff and found tight end Michael Williams all alone for the score and a 14-0 lead.
Alabama made it 3 for 3 on the next drive when Yeldon scored from a yard out on the first play of the second quarter.
The Alabama fans seemed outnumbered at Sun Life Stadium by Fighting Irish followers, pumped to see their team try to win its first national title in 24 years. But the folks in Crimson and houndstooth were making all the noise as the Tide rolled.
Lacy landed one more blow with 31 seconds left in the half. McCarron dumped off to Lacy, who spun off two tacklers, and went 11 yards to make it 28-0.
The Southeastern Conference, winners of the last six BCS championships, was storming toward seven in a row. Those familiar "S-E-C!" chants were ringing through yet another stadium.
Notre Dame had only five first downs in the half and allowed 309 yards. The Irish defense came in allowing 286 per game.
Lacy had 96 yards on 12 carries and McCarron, the MVP of last year's 21-0 title game victory against LSU, was 12 for 18 for 156 yards.
Everett Golson, the redshirt freshman quarterback who coach Brian Kelly had nurtured through the season, was 8 for 16 for 83 yards.
Alabama was trying to become only the third team to win three national titles in four seasons since polls started being used to crown champions in 1936. The last was Nebraska from 1994-97, and the Cornhuskers had to share the '97 championship with Michigan, which was voted No. 1 in the AP media poll. Nebraska was No. 1 in the coaches' poll.
Another national championship would also give Saban four, his first coming with LSU in 2003. Only Alabama's Paul "Bear" Bryant with six would have more.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP