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Bama & Irish Run First Offenses Mirror Each Other

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In the modern college football world, pass-happy spread offenses are all the rage. But when Alabama and Notre Dame take the field at the Bowl Championship Series Championship Game, it will be a battle of grind it out, old school running games.

Notre Dame has ridden its running game all season long. The Irish have shown great patience and balance rushing for nearly as many yards as it has passed for in 2012. Notre Dame averages 4.99 yards per carry and has rushed for 2,430 yards and 22 touchdowns.

On the other side of the field, Alabama has put its focus on running the ball and stopping the run since Nick Saban took over the team. In 2012, Alabama has rushed for 2,920 yards on 5.56 yards per carry and 35 touchdowns, according to

Not only was Alabama's running game one of its strengths, it arguably got better near the end of the season. The Crimson Tide ran the ball 138 times for 917 yards (6.65 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns over the final three games of the season against Western Carolina, Auburn, and Georgia.

Alabama put up an impressive display of running against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC title game. The Tide ran the ball 51 times for 350 yards and 3 touchdowns. In the second half, Alabama simply imposed its will with the physical running game it loves to run.

Not to be outdone, Notre Dame will run the ball down an opponents' throat if given the opportunity. The Irish ran the ball 51 times for 376 yards and 5 touchdowns against the completely overmatched Miami Hurricanes earlier this season.

The Fighting Irish ran the ball at least 40 times in more than half of its game this season including 42 rushes for 222 yards and 1 touchdown in the season finale against the USC Trojans.

The more the game between the Tide and the Irish is broken down, it's becoming harder and harder to find a major difference between the two teams. The teams are almost mirror images of each other: strong defense, strong running game, physical play across the field.

It makes for a physical, low-scoring contest that could turn on a special teams play or a key turnover. It'll be a battle of old school vs. old school when the Tide and Fighting Irish hit the field at Sun Life Stadium next week.

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