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By Simon Evans
MIAMI, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Alabama's 'Crimson Tide' swept aside Notre Dame in the BCS Championship game on Monday, dominating the 'Fighting Irish' 42-14 to win their third college football title in four years.
Notre Dame, 12-0 in the regular season, had been looking for their first national title since 1988 but were all at sea against irresistible Alabama, who set the tone of the game with an utterly one-sided 28-0 first half.
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron threw four touchdown passes and finished with 264 yards through the air, while running back Eddie Lacy and receiver Amari Cooper had two scores each as the Crimson Tide claimed back-to-back titles.
The victory confirmed Nick Saban as the most successful active coach in college football with four national titles, taking him within two of Alabama great Bear Bryant.
The one-sided nature of a game featuring the top ranked Notre Dame will inevitably lead to further criticism of the ranking system, though a new system is to be introduced in 2014 that will see four teams battle it out for the crown at the end of the regular season.
Regardless of the system, few would argue that Alabama, beaten only by Texas A&M in the regular season, are worthy national champions - a status acknowledged before the game by Las Vegas bookmakers if not the rankings.
The matchup had been described as a return to the pinnacle of college football for Notre Dame but it ended in embarrassment for the team in shiny golden helmets, who have won 11 'consensus' national titles but endured some lean years of late.
The chance of a first title since the introduction of the BCS championship game in 1998 drew a huge Notre Dame following to Miami where they made up the bulk of the record 80,120 crowd at the Dolphins' Sun Life stadium.
After marching bands had whipped up the atmosphere, it was quickly apparent that the smaller but wildly enthusiastic Alabama support would be heading home happy.
Alabama's first drive ended in a 20 yard touchdown run from the powerful Lacy, ably assisted by an imposing offensive line that swiftly establish supremacy.
McCarron then found tight-end Michael Williams with a three yard pass as Alabama took a 14-0 first quarter lead.
The second quarter saw a one yard rushing score from T.J. Yeldon and then Lacy collected a pass from McCarron and ran into the end-zone for an 11 yard score.
Alabama's power in the running game was evident in the yards put up by their two main backs - Lacy rushed for 140 yards and Yeldon 108.
Receiver Amari Cooper was left wide-open to score on a 34 yard McCarron pass in the third before Notre Dame gave their fans something to cheer with quarterback Everett Golson running the ball in from two yards out.
McCarron and Cooper combined again for a fourth quarter score before Notre Dame's Golson found Theo Riddick with a six yard pass to make the final score 42-14.
With the game already won and three minutes left on the clock, Saban sent out back-up quarterback Blake Sims and other reserves to get a taste of the glory. (Editing by Peter Rutherford)