MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- They called the football game played here Monday night a national championship, a title clash for the ages, epic, monumental, historic.
Then Notre Dame kicked off.
Then Alabama drove down the field, unimpeded, as if out for a nighttime stroll. It all went downhill from there.
This national championship ended early, in a flurry of Alabama touchdowns that allowed the Crimson Tide to seize its third title in four seasons, 42-14, sapping this game of all drama. And there's no end in sight for this dynasty.
"We're going for it next year again," said Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandijo, only a sophomore but already the owner of two rings. "And again. And again. And again. I love to win. That's why I came here."
Alabama controlled the game with both lines, on offense and defense, putting on a clinic in power football. The Tide jumped to a 14-0 lead after one quarter and opened up a 28-0 advantage by halftime, as Notre Dame fans streamed for the exits.
This only strengthened the claim few at Alabama dared to make before Monday night: that coach Nick Saban, who flopped in two seasons on this very field at Sun Life Stadium as coach of the Miami Dolphins, has created a college football dynasty. This was his fourth national title and third since he left the Dolphins to return to Alabama. One could easily argue it was also his most impressive, though he deflected the credit.
"We've had a lot of really
Only two other college coaches can claim at least four titles. One is John McKay of USC. The other is Paul "Bear" Bryant, the legend who made Alabama football famous.
Saban spent all of last week scoffing at any comparison between himself and Bryant, and this from a man with a 9-foot-tall statue of himself outside his office. Those close to him knew what another title meant.
"There's no question," said Kirby Smart, his defensive coordinator. "There's no question he is driven to be the greatest coach in the game."
Monday was another step, for Saban's legacy and for Alabama's program and for the Southeastern Conference, from which a team secured the national championship for the seventh straight season.
The suspense ended almost immediately. Almost. Notre Dame stuffed the Crimson Tide on its first play from scrimmage. On the next snap, quarterback AJ McCarron found receiver Kevin Norwood for a 29-yard gain. Notre Dame compounded that with a face-mask penalty, then an offside penalty. Its vaunted defense, led by linebacker Manti Te'o, was generally ineffective.
Running back Eddie Lacy finished off the drive with a 20-yard touchdown, his path largely unchallenged, his body largely untouched. It was the first time this season Notre Dame allowed a first-quarter touchdown. The 82-yard drive was the longest this year against the Fighting Irish.
The worst start Notre Dame could have imagined only worsened. Officials ruled a completion incomplete, and when the Irish appeared to recover a fumble on the ensuing punt, officials flagged them for catching interference.
Alabama simply resumed its rush to judgment. McCarron continued to hand the ball to Lacy, who continued to plunge forward, mostly at the right side of Notre Dame's defense, which looked like a matador, with Lacy playing the role of bull. He finished with 140 yards on 20 carries and scored one touchdown rushing and one receiving.
"Lacy made us miss," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "I thought his ability to shake us down was outstanding."
By the time Alabama scored its second touchdown, on a pass from McCarron to tight end Michael Williams, the Crimson Tide boasted a 123-8 advantage in total yardage. By the time Alabama scored its third touchdown, a T.J. Yeldon run on the first play of the second quarter, the Irish had 23 yards -- and the Crimson Tide had 21 points.
"They just did what Alabama does," moaned Te'o.
Eventually Notre Dame will celebrate a 12-1 season that brought the return of the Irish to college football's elite.
But not on Monday night, when Alabama triumphed and the SEC ruled again.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Game summary on Page 6.
Biggest margin of victories in a BCS title game:
36: USC 55, Oklahoma 19, Jan. 1, 2005
28: Alabama 42, Notre Dame 14, Jan. 7, 2013
27: Florida 41, Ohio State 14, Jan. 8, 2007
23: Miami 37, Nebraska 14, Jan. 3, 2002
21: Alabama 21, LSU 0, Jan. 9, 2012.
17: Florida St. 46, Virginia Tech 29, Jan. 4, 2000
16: Alabama 37, Texas 21, Jan. 7, 2010.
14: LSU 38, Ohio State 24, Jan. 7, 2008.
Most BCS championships
Alabama 2010, 2012, 2013
Florida 2007, 2009
LSU 2004, 2008
Florida St. 2000
Ohio St. 2003
Staff writer Jon Wilner turns in his final AP ballot.