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BCS preview

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Notre Dame will try to win its first national championship since 1988 when the No. 1 Irish (12-0) play No. 2 Alabama (12-1) tonight in Sun Life Stadium.

Here are three matchups to watch in tonight's BCS championship game:

Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix III vs. Alabama center Barrett Jones: In a game that features hard-nosed offenses and defenses, this could be the most intriguing matchup. Nix is a 6-foot-3, 326-pound junior, who had 45 tackles with 5 1/2 tackles for loss this season. Jones is a 6-5, 302-pound senior All-American who has started in three different spots on Alabama's offensive line. Jones injured his ankle in the SEC championship game, but he said he is 100 percent healthy for tonight's game.

Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert vs. Alabama's pass coverage: Eifert, a 6-6, 251-pound former Bishop Dwenger star, can create plenty of headaches for defenses because of how much the Irish move him around to create mismatches. Eifert can line up as a tight end, receiver and even in the backfield. He led Notre Dame with 44 catches for 624 yards and four touchdowns. Alabama has the No. 6 pass defense, giving up 166.2 yards per game, but coach Nick Saban and the defensive players have said all week that they have not faced a tight end like Eifert all season.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o vs. Alabama running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon: Te'o, a 6-2, 255-pound senior All-American, will not be trying to stop the Tide's rushing attack alone, but he is the most important part of the Irish's defense. He led the team with 103 tackles and will lead the group as Notre Dame tries to stop Alabama's two 1,000-yard rushers. Lacy, a 6-foot, 220-pound junior, ran for 1,182 yards with 16 touchdowns, and Yeldon, a 6-2, 216-pound freshman, ran for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Prediction: Alabama 17, Notre Dame 10

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