Lacy runs over Irish in what could be college finale
Eddie Lacy romped through Notre Dame's defense with power and his favorite move.
No. 2 Alabama's latest star tailback rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown and scored with a spin move on a catch in Monday night's 42-14 rout over No. 1 Notre Dame in the BCS championship.
If the game ends up being the junior's finale at Alabama, it was a doozy. He was slowed early in the season with a nagging left ankle injury but finished with three straight 100-yard games, a 99-yarder and 10 touchdowns in the final four games.
"I think for one of the first times this season we were able to come out and play a complete game," Lacy said. "I mean, we had slow starts at times but we were able to come back and put a couple of drives together and score."
Named the game's outstanding player on offense, Lacy had 72 yards before the first quarter ended - against a defense that came in allowing a stingy 92 yards a game on the ground. He capped the opening drive with a 20-yard touchdown and had nine touches on the first two possessions, both ending with touchdowns.
It was impressive against a sturdy front seven led by All-America linebacker Manti Te'o.
"I was surprised, but the offensive line came out and opened up big holes," Lacy said.
"We did it the way coach always talks about. We come out and play for 60 we gave it all we've got and that was the outcome."
Lacy spun into the end zone at the end of an 11-yard catch with 31 seconds left in the second quarter to make it 28-0. It's a move that typically buys him extra yardage, and one that he jokes with teammates is trademarked and requires a fee when they try to duplicate it.
"Lacy made us miss," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "I thought his ability to shake us down was outstanding."
He said most of the Fighting Irish's tackling issues could be credited to "a really outstanding back in Lacy and the way he ran. I was very impressed with him tonight."
He's just the latest Bama tailback to shine in the big one, even if he came in with less acclaim than his predecessors. The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and last season's finalist, Trent Richardson, both topped 100 yards against Texas and another stout run defense in Pasadena, Calif., three years ago.
Both went on to become first-round NFL draft picks. Lacy isn't projected quite that high, but he definitely didn't hurt his case if he decides to turn pro.
"He's incredible. He's an incredible player," center Barrett Jones said. "We're seeing what Eddie's capable of. He's been a little banged up at the beginning of the year but now he's fully healthy and he's an incredible player."
Lacy finished the year with 17 rushing touchdowns and 1,322 yards, while sharing headlines and carries with talented freshman T.J. Yeldon, who ran for 108 yards and a touchdown on the night also topped 1,000 yards for the season.
Lacy was at his best late in Alabama's title run.
He rushed for 131 yards against Auburn, 181 in the Southeastern Conference championship game versus Georgia and 99 yards against Western Kentucky before that streak. He scored 10 touchdowns during that four-game stretch.
Lacy mostly grinned and shrugged off questions about not being fully healthy or in game shape early in the season, but admitted a couple of weeks ago that "it can break you down as a competitor ... because you're thinking about what I used to be able to do."
Alabama had plenty of big offensive performances against the Fighting Irish, who had won five of the first six meetings.
AJ McCarron, last year's championship game MVP against LSU, completed 20 of 28 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns. Yeldon gained 108 yards on 21 carries and fellow freshman Amari Cooper caught six passes for 105 yards to break Julio Jones' freshman receiving records.
Lacy set the tone, though.
He converted a fourth-and-1 play and, later, ran for 5 yards up the middle - gaining a couple extra yards after pushing 248-pound linebacker Danny Spond away with one hand in the second quarter.
"We were able to establish and maintain the run with our backs and line doing a great job and then AJ and our receivers converted third downs and maintained drives," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "We were able to possess the ball, and it limited their opportunities."