During the past decade, a compliment has emerged in college football to top all others. In praising a team with a defense like Notre Dame's, for instance, it has become fashionable to say, "You play like an SEC team." Those words have taken hold with good reason: The Southeastern Conference has won the past six Bowl Championship Series title games and threatens to claim a seventh on Monday night as Alabama takes on Notre Dame.
The Irish might take umbrage at such perceived laurels. After all, they are ranked No. 1, and they, not Alabama, are undefeated (12-0). But the comparison rings true: Notre Dame's defense is like that of an SEC team—perhaps too much so. The Irish's 3-4 scheme, hulking front line and lockdown defensive secondary make them very closely resemble the team the Crimson Tide offense practices against every day.