Monday night's BCS National Championship left everyone wondering one thing -- What happened to Notre Dame in the last month?
The Alabama Crimson Tide (13-1, 7-1 SEC) proved without a doubt they are the best team in the land with a dominating 42-14 win over the Fighting Irish on Monday night.
Early on, it was clear something wasn't quite right with the Irish.
Alabama set the tone for the game with the game's opening drive, finished off with a 20-yard jaunt by Eddie Stacy.
And just like that, the Tide had seized control of the game and never looked back.
In fact, it wasn't just Alabama that beat Notre Dame on that opening drive--the Irish shot themselves in the foot with several penalties.
Not even three minutes later, the onslaught had started and Notre Dame could do nothing to stop the carnage.
Alabama went on to score three more touchdowns and led 28-0 at the half.
Things continued to spiral downward for Notre Dame with another strike early in the third quarter, putting the Tide up 35-0.
Notre Dame did rally for a pair of touchdowns in the second half, but couldn't overcome the first half atrocity.
Alabama was led by AJ McCarron, who threw four touchdowns and had 264 yards to his credit.
Irish QB Everett Golson was 21-of-36 for 270 yards, but only had one passing touchdown when he connected with Theo Riddick with just under eight minutes to play in the game.
By that point the game was well out of reach for Notre Dame and the Tide needed to just kill the clock to claim its third title in four years.
With the national championship in the books, the critics of the BCS system are sure to point out the flaws and the "what if" scenarios about the potential match ups that could have been.
Its an interesting position to ponder about what may have unfolded.
Going into the games on November 17, it seemed like a lock that the national championship game would be between Oregon and Kansas State. That scenario didn't pan out, though, as both Oregon and K-State both were dealt losses on that fateful Saturday.
While the two ended up playing in the Fiesta Bowl, it raises an interesting question: Could Oregon have went toe-to-toe against Alabama and unseated the undoubted kings of college football?
Both teams had one loss on the regular season and garnered a top five ranking at the end of the regular season.
But somehow, the Irish managed to trick everyone into thinking they were No. 1 when the final polls were released and earn a trip to Miami.
Another scenario worth contemplating is a Florida-Alabama match up in the BCS National Championship.
Florida was after all No. 3 in the final polling and also had just one loss.
So a major point to ask would be: "Is a 12-0 Notre Dame better than a one-loss Florida?"
Granted, Florida didn't look like a national championship contender in a 33-23 loss to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl last week.
Can the judgment of a team's strength of schedule be determined without pitting one team against another?
It's such a conundrum to think about the what ifs and what could have been.
And it seems like such simple answer to just install a full on playoff system and let the teams decide the national champion by winning on the field rather than relying on polls to set up one game.
It works in the pros. Nobody ever disputes a Super Bowl champion, so why can't we get a full on playoff in the college world?
Sure, there are more teams, but unfortunately it's all about the money.
Proponents of the current system don't think there's much of a reason to change anything.
After all, Alabama sure looked like the best team in the country with the performance on Monday night, but that can happen against a team that's been exaggerated for six weeks.
One thing those proponents tend to overlook is if the system in place truly does produce the best team year in and year out, then the eventual winners shouldn't have a problem winning in a playoff format.
While we do get a modified playoff system in 2014, it won't be the be-all end-all answer for everyone. It's modified to try and appease both sides of the debate.
And while it's a step in the right direction, there will always be questions about those what if scenarios until the teams are allowed to play in a true playoff format.
-- Chris Siers is sports editor of the Times-Gazette. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.