By CALEB CALHOUN
5:15 PM EST, January 4, 2013
Undefeated Notre Dame may be ranked No. 1 heading into the college football national championship game against one-loss Alabama on Monday, but as of Friday afternoon, Alabama was favored by 9.5 points.
Many area residents, despite pulling for Notre Dame, appeared to agree Friday.
“I’ll be pulling for Notre Dame a little bit to beat Alabama, but I think it will be a tough game, a good defensive match-up, and I think Alabama’s going to win it by at least a field goal,” said Taylor Brown, 20, of Cascade. “Just from experience of being an LSU fan, knowing how tough it is to win in the SEC (Southeastern Conference), I just think Alabama’s got a complete team.”
Both teams competing for the national championship are ranked No. 1 and 2 in fewest points given up per game, and both are in the top 10 in fewest total yards given up per game, which Brown said proves a common theme in sports.
“Defenses definitely still win championships,” he said. “You see Oregon, and they have really high-powered offense, and they’re not in it.”
By contrast neither team is in the top 30 in total yards gained per game nor the top 10 in points scored per game. Notre Dame is ranked No. 74 in points scored per game.
Mitchel Rodriguez, 24, of Hagerstown, said he will be pulling for Notre Dame, but also thinks Alabama will win.
“Notre Dame’s in it after so many years, and I’m tired of seeing Alabama win,” he said. “The SEC is just so dominant, though.”
Alabama will be looking for its third national championship in four years, and the SEC will be looking to win its seventh straight national championship.
Notre Dame is seeking its first national championship since 1988.
“I don’t want to see the SEC win another national championship, and Notre Dame hasn’t been good for a long time, so I want them to win,” said Bobby Salembene, 20, of Hagerstown. “It would also be good for college football for them to win.”
“They’re undefeated and Alabama has one loss, and they’re playing pretty strong right now,” said 28 South co-owner Jay Zuspan, 53, of Pasadena, Md. “I’d like to see Notre Dame win it. I think it would be pretty big for their program.”
Denise Bowen, 54, of Smithsburg, said her daughter is an alumnae of Notre Dame and that she thinks the Irish will win.
“I think they’re going to have some lucky breaks as they did in some of their regular season games, the Holy Spirit is going to intervene, and they’re going to win,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the game so that I can talk trash to those ‘Roll Tide’ people after it is over.”
Alabama and Notre Dame lead all Football Bowl Subdivision college football teams in all-time national championships claimed with 14 and 11 respectively. Since Head Coach Brian Kelly arrived at Notre Dame in 2010, the Fighting Irish are 28-10. Since Head Coach Nick Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007, the Crimson Tide are 67-13.
Tony Dyer, 38, of Hagerstown, who has a niece attending school in Alabama, and said he will be pulling for them and is picking them to win.
“Notre Dame just came out of nowhere, and they haven’t been in the picture for a long time,” he said. “Usually when teams are like that, they need to get seasoned again.”
Coverage begins at 8 p.m. Monday on ESPN.
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